This paper examines the interplays among studying abroad, return migration and capital accumulation, in a dynamic general equilibrium model featuring heterogeneous ability. Households invest in education and make two migration decisions: whether to study abroad and subsequently whether to return home. The model predicts that the highest, middle and lowest-ability people choose respectively permanent migration, return migration and no migration. More interestingly, we find a novel migration cycle: returnees bring back learned-knowledge and over time, capital accumulates, attracting more return migration. Further, the usual “brain drain” in the literature can be turned into “brain gain”, by providing a subsidy to studying abroad and returning home.
ASJC Scopus subject areas