Iran is facing a multitude of crises as a result of the mullahs’ rule, with some of them so ingrained in people’s lives that they immediately spark protests and even nationwide uprisings, like poverty.
Others are more hidden, like brain drain, which is the name given to the phenomenon where elite professionals leave their country of origin for one where they will have more opportunity.
This has been constant in Iran since the mullahs first took power in 1979 and the numbers have only increased year on year to the point where Iran is now the world leader in having its best and brightest flee the country.
When the issues were raised by the media in November 1979, regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini said that all those who believed in “science and civilization” should be “let go”, even though in the summer of that year, he’d told intellectuals that they wouldn’t want to go back to the Dark Ages.
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Why Is There So Much Brain Drain in Iran Anyway?
Simply, the social, economic, and cultural policies of the regime repel most of the Iranian people, so those with the opportunity to leave, whether through wealth, employment, or education, often do. Given that many of those allowed to make money in Iran are involved in the regime, most of those emigrating are elite students or professionals.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in 2018 that the main causes for brain drain in Iran are:
- low wages for professionals
- lack of scientific facilities
- political and social instability
The situation has become markedly worse in the past three years, as a glance at the state-run media shows, with 145,000 people now leaving each year, most of whom have university degrees.
Mohammad Vahidi, the Deputy Chairman of the Parliament’s Education and Research Commission, said earlier this month that 20 engineers and experts leave the country every day.
“Iran ranks first among developing countries in terms of brain drain. Brain drain costs the country $60 billion a year,” said Mohammad Javad Rasaei, the Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Science, in April 2019.
In addition to the regime’s dismissal of science, the mullahs also enforce major crackdowns on students for any sort of peaceful protest or legitimate demand. Case in point, the 1999 massacre.
Iranian students who want their basic needs met must protest in the streets and risk arrest. Even those who make it through and graduate will likely be met with unemployment.
“The brain drain is the result of the backward and fundamental worldview and policies of a leadership like Khomeini and his successor Ali Khamenei… And the brain drain is not just statistics. Its effects manifest themselves in the continued degrading of living standards and growing misery of the Iranian population,” the Iranian Resistance wrote.