4. Lebanese Immigration: Opportunities & Losses

  Instructor: Laurent Aoun

  Click HERE to get the text written by Mr. Aoun.
  Click HERE to go to section I, HERE to go to section II, and HERE to go to section III.

Immigration: Opportunities and Losses

Section II

Section 2:  Immigration of the Lebanese labor force:

2.1- Introduction:

    In a time when the developed countries are competing to attract immigrants, highly skilled, labor forces because of the added value they provide for their economies, we find Lebanon exporting its educated youth into the four corners of the globe, unobserved and without any elaborated planning.

Lebanon has a large percentage of university students, reaching 48% of adult residents, which it is unable to absorb. According to a study published by the “Information International” institution, 70.4% of immigrants left Lebanon due to the lack of job opportunities.

Hence, immigration could have some positive aspects as to the unemployed, but what is happening in Lebanon is the closing of many factories and shops, and their relocation into other countries along with their staff, causing the loss of many highly skilled Lebanese people.

In light of those facts, and in a country where population growth has only reached 1.15%, immigration is moving from being an unemployment-reduction phenomenon into draining the state from its working strength, hereby turning it into an old unskillful country. Here a distinction must be drawn between the high-skilled and low-skilled immigration; for each one has a distinctive impact on the country.


2.2- High skilled immigration:

     According to a study conducted by Dr. Shoghe Kasparian published in 2005, 29% of the graduates from University of Saint-Joseph (USJ) have left Lebanon (40% of the males, 22% of the females); Along with 65% of the engineering graduates, and 50% of the medical graduates.

2.2.1- The negative effects:

  The above mentioned figures evidently point out to the danger behind the elevated rate of high-skilled immigration, which can be summarized into three types:

 -First: the impact on the productive capabilities of Lebanon:

·        Lebanon is loosing its innovative and creative force, and exhausting its fresh environment for productivity, openness and constant development.

·        A large segment of the skilled labor force still living in Lebanon consider themselves temporary residents. They work with no planning , awaiting the immigration permits .This is why many Lebanese corporations are having difficulties recruiting employees to guarantee the continuity of the firm.

-Second: the impact on national revenues:

·        Lebanon suffers from a double loss due to the exodus of its highly-skilled labor force; when the parents are paying the heavy burden of education fees, it is the immigration importing countries that are benefiting from these skills.

·        The revenues of the Lebanese treasury are being negatively affected by loosing the taxes and the fees Lebanese workers have to pay when working in Lebanon.

-Third: the impact on social security:

·        The drainage of “brain-power” from a country could diminish essential social services such as medical care. And the hazard begins to show when less competent foreign labor force begins to fill the lack.

·        Immigration might cause an imbalance between the number of males and females causing social intricacies.


2.2.2-The positive impacts:

Here are some limited positive impacts

1.     Some developed nations give Lebanese immigrants a better chance to expand their capabilities and achieve success.

2.     Immigration might encourage residents for further academic attainments to accomplish what others have already done.

3.     Returning immigrants bring back with them modern and developed techniques and technologies. However, this effect remains theoretical because the last link of the immigration stages, being the “come back”, is missing in Lebanon. Consequently, instead of returning home and assisting his country like he did for the receiving state we find the Lebanese immigrant becoming well infused into the host country and his relations with Lebanon become sometimes symbolic.


2.3-Low-skilled immigration:

 The low-skilled immigration is less hazardous than the highly-skilled immigration. It produces some positive impacts.

1.      This kind of immigration generally belongs to the lower social classes   which are in need of remittances from abroad. It has been proven however that low-skilled immigrants transfer more money to their parents than do highly-skilled immigrants.

2.       This immigration would create more job opportunities for those still in Lebanon, and there fore, it could have a positive impact if the unemployment rate in the sector in low, immigration could lead to a deficiency in labor force, thus raising the wages, which in its turn would prove unbeneficial for the employers.


2.4-Necessary actions for the labor force  immigration:

2.4.1-A constant of immigration with regular statistics  and standardized criteria.

We find big gaps between the numbers of one statistical source and another, depending on the way the census was conducted upon. Thus it is vital to keep track of the immigration, its quality in standardized criteria, its division between sectors, and depending on the destination country, in order to get acquainted with the needs of the Lebanese market and to draw effective plans for various sectors of production.

2.4.2-Profiting from the “brain drain “phenomenon

Successful case study - TOKTEN(Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nationals)

The brain drain phenomenon has deprived Lebanon from the expertise of thousands of its citizens in a time when this very same expertise is much needed. I will mention in what follows the TOKTEN experience as a model program to limit the negative effects of brain drain and in shifting these proficiencies to Lebanon in a prolific manner.

TOKEN is a program launched by the UNDP to get hold of Lebanese potentials in order to boost the developmental efforts and the transfer of their knowledge and skill.

This program depends on the spirit of volunteerism and the will to aid the country. In other terms, the TOKEN volunteers are not remunerated, but are eligible for travel tickets and housing fees and many Lebanese governmental institutions were able to benefit from the experience of immigrants thanks to this program.

It is crucial to benefit from the successful experience of TOKEN and launch similar programs in a broader perspective.


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20 %: Session 3 || 20 %: Session 4

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