Panel 7: Depopulation, the Global Competition for Talent and the Digital Diaspora

Panel 7

Title of the panel:

Depopulation, the Global Competition for Talent and the Digital Diaspora


depopulation; addressing depopulation; Global competition for talent; Covid-19; diaspora; ICT;

Short description:

A combination of low fertility and emigration has resulted in a lengthening list of countries whose populations are now shrinking. The effects of population decline on a society’s economy can be severe, especially when those who emigrate leave with high levels of education and ambition, which drive innovation and economic development. Furthermore, those who leave may become models for those who are left behind, acting as an incentive for them to leave, too.

Restoring a population’s size is no easy matter. Demographers are in broad agreement that reversing low fertility levels is highly unlikely; no society has had much success in doing so. Migration, then, becomes the only route to population growth, whether through diaspora members returning to their homeland or non-nationals entering as immigrants.

This panel will focus on how members of the diaspora can be persuaded to return home. This complex task is situated in the broader context of intense global competition for talent. Homelands are competing against other countries’ economies for the talents and skills embodied in their diaspora, and they must acknowledge this in their strategies to attract their citizens back. To a significant extent, this is a communications mission that can be undertaken by homeland governments, business and other employers, and families and friends, using ICT. Given the international competition for skills, what has to be conveyed to the diaspora is a message detailing the advantages of return, the support that will be offered for re-integration and the economic opportunities for them on their arrival. Economic incentives can include not only various forms of income but reduced living costs, such as cheaper housing, transportation and medical care.

The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected migration patterns and, in addition, how we use ICT. Migration, including the out-migration from homelands that is at the heart of this panel, has been much reduced, while the use of ICT for work has grown immensely. Innovations in how people work could become a part of incentive packages for returning diaspora. Since the pandemic began, working from home has become the norm, for many. All that is required in many jobs, especially those involving a high level of education, is an internet connection. Workers’ location is now often of secondary importance. This offers homelands another way in which to attract back their diaspora: working overseas, yet living in the homeland.

Some of the topics that will be discussed in the panel:

  • ICT-based strategies to attract back members of the diasporas of depopulating countries
  • depopulation: drivers and implications
  • depopulation & the global competition for talent;
  • Covid-19 and international mobility;
  • depopulations & diaspora;
  • data-driven strategies to address the challenge of depopulation;


  • Howard Duncan, Carleton University, Canada
  • Marija Benic-Penava, University of Dubrovnik, Croatia

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