Home Brain drain in the aid sector: Unpacking the barriers of the dual-salary system

Imagine working in a sector where you’d need to reduce your pay three to five times to work in your own country, no matter your previous experience and skillset. This is the sad reality for thousands of aid workers from developing and conflict-ridden countries, even those with several years of experience as expatriates.

In this paper, Manfredi Miceli investigates how the dual-salary system in the aid sector creates structural barriers and impediments to the development of localised and sustainable responses.

Professionals are not evaluated according to their previous experience and titles. Instead, their nationality weighs on their application more than their expertise.

The direct result of this current policy lack is a so-called ‘brain drain’—a social phenomenon characterised by the emigration of highly trained and qualified people from a particular country to get a better wage. Manfredi highlights how the salary gap and the lack of fair human resource policies directly contributes to the brain drain of aid workers from LDCs, hypothesising that the salary and benefit gap impedes the return of aid workers on a structural level, leading to less sustainable and non-localised responses.

Photo credit: Amran, an Early Childhood Education Project Assistant in Somalia. © Said Isse/Save the Children

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