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Revista Novedades en Población

versión On-line ISSN 1817-4078

Rev Nov Pob vol.18 no.35 La Habana ene.-jun. 2022  Epub 16-Jun-2022



Comparative analysis of Russian and foreign research on teacher migration

Análisis comparativo de la investigación rusa y extranjera sobre la migración docente

1Semenov-Tyan-Shansk University, Lipetsk, Russia.


This article analyses Russian and foreign academic research in the field of teacher migration. The study aims to determine the volume of research on the given subject area. In the article, we have used a comparative analysis of sources, as well as such methods as comparative and structural-functional analysis, and statistical means. The objectives were to study the concept of migration, to identify positive and negative aspects of labor migration, to examine the meaning of the terms educational and intellectual migration, to identify the problems faced by teachers when moving to other countries, based on the works of foreign authors. The teachers' experience in such countries as the USA, Belgium, and Norway was analyzed for this purpose. The main results of the study confirm the relevance of the article's topic. We came to the conclusion that the narrow focus "migration of teachers" is barely studied and requires additional research to identify the causes and factors in teacher professional activities.

Keywords: Migration; labor migration; educational migration; intellectual migration; teachers


Este artículo analiza la investigación académica rusa y extranjera en el campo de la migración docente. El estudio tiene como objetivo determinar el volumen de investigación sobre el área temática dada. En el artículo, hemos utilizado un análisis comparativo de fuentes, así como métodos tales como análisis comparativo y estructural-funcional, y medios estadísticos. Los objetivos fueron estudiar el concepto de migración, identificar aspectos positivos y negativos de la migración laboral, examinar el significado de los términos de migración educativa e intelectual, identificar los problemas que enfrentan los docentes al trasladarse a otros países, a partir de las obras de autores extranjeros. Para ello se analizó la experiencia de los docentes en países como Estados Unidos, Bélgica y Noruega. Los principales resultados del estudio confirman la relevancia del tema del artículo. Llegamos a la conclusión de que el enfoque estrecho "migración de maestros" apenas se estudia y requiere de investigación adicional para identificar las causas y los factores en las actividades profesionales de los maestros.

Palabras-clave: Migración; Migración laboral; Migración educativa; Migración intelectual; Profesorado


In contemporary social and economic conditions, the migration of skilled labour force is an essential problem. To date, there is no unified approach to the definition of "teacher migration". The purpose of this research paper is to compare the analysis performed by foreign and Russian academic research on teacher migration. The objectives of the paper are: to identify key problems of teacher migration; to analyze scientific research of Russian authors devoted to the chosen topic; and to study scientific works of foreign scholars. The relevance of this study is determined by the lack of research in the context of specific professional activities. Studies by both foreign (Bourdieu, 2017, Castells, 2020, Bauman, 2018, Stillman, 2010, etc.) and Russian scholars (Kovalev, 2017, Dolzhikova, 2020, Tskhadadze, 2020, etc.) are mostly focused on labor migration, educational and intellectual migration and teacher mobility. Sorokin (2005) introduces a definition of social migration. A comparative analysis of the literature reveals that issues related to intellectual, educational migration and migration mobility are widely covered, while research on teacher migration is studied insufficiently. The very concept of teacher migration does not exist. Lots of academic works are devoted to the concept of migration in general, and in researching this topic we understand that teacher migration is about the movement of teachers, defining the framework of professional activity and examining the causes.

In a modern country, one of the factors determining economic well-being is the predominance of high-qualified personnel, who are the foundation of socio-economic development. There are several levels of education in the Russian Federation: pre-school education; school education (primary, secondary basic, complete secondary education); vocational education (vocational schools, specialised secondary schools, higher education institutions); and post-graduate education (post-graduate, doctoral studies). Teachers involved in the educational process are guides for future school graduates. Nevertheless, this profession is not considered prestigious in Russia. However, it is the school that lays the foundation of knowledge in every pupil. Despite the importance of the profession, there are a number of problems in Russia that force teachers to either leave the profession or migrate to other regions and countries, including the following:

  • ill-conceived management system;

  • low salaries;

  • low teacher status;

  • outdated facilities.

All these factors prompt young personnel to either change their professional activities or move to other regions, countries. Thus, they get a chance to increase their financial independence and advance their social status.

According to Rosstat, there are 164 higher educational establishments in 133 cities of the Russian Federation, offering teacher training to university entrants. Irrational migration of teachers reduces the human resources potential of the region. It should be noted that budget financing of teacher education in the Russian Federation accompanied with such phenomenon as migration can also be considered irrational. It is so because the monetary resources spent do not correspond to target indicators, namely, renewal of pedagogical staff in general education. That is why teacher migration at the present historical stage is one of the relevant phenomena for research.

Materials and methods

To reach the goal of this study, we used mainly theoretical methods: comparison, structural-functional method, and analysis. The comparative method is based on the comparison of two or more ideas, highlighting the commonalities and differences in them for the purpose of creation of typology.

We have used this method to compare a number of scientific terms such as: labor migration, professional mobility, educational and intellectual mobility. "Labor mobility" and "occupational mobility" can be defined to refer to all types of occupations, while the latter two are more related to education. As mentioned above, we are interested in general education, namely teachers and the migration processes that are associated with them. There are many academic papers devoted to the concept of migration.

The phenomenon of migration is a multifaceted and complex process. Kovalev (2017) in his research determines that everyone is inherently a migrant: the one who is undergoing training (educational migration), moving to a place of work (pendular migration), organizing recreation (seasonal migration). When it comes to scientific personnel, we can talk about the concept of intellectual migration. Dolzhikova (2020) classifies intellectual migration in a narrow sense: that is, migration of scientists and researchers; in a broad sense, migration flows of high-qualified personnel.

Tskhadadze (2020) identified the forerunner of "migration overpopulation" research. The British scientist Ravenstein was the founder of the scientific study of migration and the author of "The Eleven Laws of Migration". In 1885, he regarded migration as a permanent process within society aimed at territorial movements and involving temporary changes.

The term "social mobility" was introduced by Sorokin (2005). He referred to social mobility as the movement of an individual from one social situation to another. Sorokin talked about individual (career) and group (migration) social mobility. Naturally, the process of group mobility is more complex. The reasons for mass movements should be sought in changes in the economic sphere, a political upheaval or a change of ideological reference points. Vertical group-based social mobility introduces major changes to the stratification structure, changing the existing hierarchy.

Moiseenko (2004) considered the migration process as "a form of population movement in which a change of place of residence [takes place], defined by a temporary equivalent and accompanied by specific consequences".

Vechkanov defines the term 'migration' as the conditions for a change of permanent place of residence subsequently with the implementation of labor activities, taking into account societal needs (Tskhadadze, 2020).

In order to determine to what extent teacher migration will have an impact on the social and economic situation in the country, we use the structural-functional method, which helps to determine the formations of labor migration.

Having defined the concept of migration, let us consider the term "labor migration". Utkina (2016) believes that the trigger for the formation of labor migration in the state is a continuous search by the labor force for a more profitable place of work to satisfy financial and personal needs.

The positive aspects of labor migration include:

  • improved quality of life;

  • lowering of unemployment rate;

  • the human resources reserve is being replenished;

  • savings in the training of incoming citizens;

  • rise of taxable base;

  • an increase in consumers.

Drawbacks to the emergence of labor migration are:

  • ethnic conflict situations;

  • competition for jobs;

  • lower average wages.

Roshchin understands educational migration as a type of migration: spatial movements of people directly involved in the process of intellectual emigration (Utkina, 2016).

The emergence of teacher migration is associated with risks and uncertainties caused by the processes of educational transformation, as well as living conditions. Being in a risk environment, young personnel build their own educational trajectory aimed at avoiding or overcoming possible risks.

As part of his research project, Savenkov (2016) identifies the following reasons for migration: leaving for small and medium-sized businesses; going to other regions; and going abroad. Thus, among the main reasons for the outflow of teachersare: low wages, lack of housing conditions, outdated methodological base, lack of prospects, weak support from the state.

On October 18, 2013, the Ministry of labor and social protection approved the professional standard "Teacher", which states that "a teacher is a key figure in the educational reform". Among other things, the Standard defines that a professional teacher possesses readiness for change, mobility, responsibility in personal decisions. A successful modern teacher should be constantly engaged in self-development and self-improvement, to realize their potential, and to be able to use innovative technologies.

The difference between migration and professional mobility lies in the fact that the first concept is associated with the relocations of an individual, both over short and long distances. Professional mobility is interpreted as an individual's readiness and ability to quickly master new technologies and acquire missing knowledge in order to enhance personal professional performance. That is, the second concept is related to the profession of a person who seeks a higher status in society.

Using the method of analysis, let us define the professional mobility of a teacher. The analysis allows us to divide the process into its components and to highlight its individual attributes.

In this regard, professional mobility of teachers will allow them to gain new experience not only within the country, but also on a global scale. This topic was studied in the works of Nyzhnova (2019), Zheltova (2008), Skornyakova (2008), Vershinina (2006), Pronchev (2019). Migration of teachers as a process was analyzed by such authors as Scherbakov (2017), Volkov (2009), and others.

The research identified vertical and horizontal mobility vectors, which are described in the works of Sorokina (2005), Goryunova (2006), Amirova (2016), and others.

Teacher mobility is determined by personal characteristics, which include flexibility, creativity, innovativeness, adaptability, social activity. The personal qualities of professional mobility are reflected in the scientific works of Nyzhnova (2019), Gaga (2008), Tskhadadze (2020), etc.

Theories and concepts of personnel mobility, socio-professional mobility have been studied by such authors as sorokin (2005), Gimpelson (2017), Igoshev (2016), Bondyrevа (2007), Malyshev(2015), etc.

Based on the works of the above-mentioned researchers, we can identify the criteria for teacher professional mobility.

Value and motivational:

  • inner motivation for professional development (self-improvement, self-discovery);

  • vertical vector (career growth);

  • motivation for continuous learning;

  • focus on success.


  • the ability to solve and overcome professional challenges;

  • the use of innovative tools;

  • mastering of new competencies;

  • knowledge in personal professional field.

Personal and meaningful:

  • adapting to the new environment;

  • demonstrating engagement in professional activities;

  • creative approach;

  • responsibility in decision-making;

  • communicativeness and establishment of new contacts with the subjects of educational activity.

Thus, teacher migration is influenced by: the duration of work, the level of professional training, the discipline taught, social and demographic characteristics of the individual. Academics also single out the subjective factor, such as: job satisfaction, productivity.

The analysis of foreign scholars on the study of teacher migration is mainly confined to identifying the problems associated with this process.

  1. The problem of social inequality of teachers in connection with educators within the boundaries of the country

  2. This issue has been studied in the works of social reproduction, such as Bourdieu (2017), who studied social capital and class reproduction; Castells (2020) with information society theory; Bauman (2018) with studies of impact of globalization on personality. Many researchers indirectly touched upon the topic, denoting that migration forces a teacher to be on starting conditions, as he or she lacks social characteristics in the new society, there are limited monetary resources, insufficient knowledge of the host language.

  3. Age.

  4. It is believed that the earlier in life that the migration process takes place, the better for the teacher. Nevertheless, in the works of Stillman (2010) it is determined that early migration will not allow an educator to become more professional in the field.

  5. . Stigma effect

  6. The issue of racial discrimination becomes controversial, as a teacher will belong to his or her own ethnic origin, which may lead to prejudice and intolerance, as well as isolation of a migrant teacher from the natives.

  7. Adaptation

In the analysis of Western researchers there is a strategy of migrant teacher adaptation: transitional, adaptive, bicultural. Transitional adaptation begins at the initial stage; adaptive, when the individual establishes communication ties, and as a result, there is a concentration of communication. Bicultural adaptation includes adherence to the culture and traditions of the host and own ethnic groups. The paper also used the statistical method; the data obtained in the analysis reflect the dynamics of the teaching profession abroad: in Belgium, USA, and Norway.


Thus, having analyzed the foreign experience of scientists devoted to the study of teacher migration, we can say that the statistics collected in fifty American states by the National Center for Education Statistics can be divided into several cycles. In our study, we conclude that 11% of teachers leave the profession within the first year, and 39% of respondents within five years. Analysis in the school system in Belgium shows that four out of ten teachers leave the teaching profession in the first five years of their career. The findings indicate that there is a teacher shortage in certain subjects. These results raise questions about the analysis of teachers' professional trajectories and probably indicate a loss in the overall attractiveness of the profession. This phenomenon is not new and many authors see it as a consequence of the deinstitutionalization of the school. Other authors have addressed this issue through the prism of teachers' professional identity, the growing complexity of the profession or its relative attractiveness compared to other professions.

A comparative literature review found that some teachers are withdrawing from their responsibilities due to professional or personal reasons. A study of primary and lower secondary school teachers in Norway, for instance, highlighted that women of childbearing age were more likely to leave the profession. This behavior is facilitated by policies in Norway and more generally in the Nordic countries that encourage interrupting careers to bring up their own children. The rate of exit from the profession increases again when we consider the most experienced staff who leave their teaching load due to retirement age. For example, this rate in the United States was 12% of total staff turnover. Johnson (2018) found that educator job satisfaction is related to internal and external resources. The former includes the teacher's personal characteristics and professional achievements. The latter include salary, career development.

That is how, we have come to a conclusion that such analyses are relevant and require deepening, designed to better understand what the social perceptions pertaining to the profession are and the factors, both objective and subjective, that today slow down or encourage teacher training graduates to enter and continue in the profession. However, they offer only a general assessment of the situation throughout the territory. The line of research developed over one or two decades tends to show that the phenomenon of teacher migration deserves to be studied at other levels and, in particular, in relation to the schools in which they practice. Until the early 2000s, the predominant point of analysis focused on individuals and sought to determine the extent to which teachers' professional trajectories were shaped by a number of individual factors (gender, work experience, discipline taught, etc.). There has since been a major shift towards an approach which also takes into account the characteristics of organizations and the work environment. Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are complex emotional responses that arise from the interaction between the employee and the work setting in which he or she works. They are related to the evaluation that employees make between what they want professionally and what their jobs give them. This evaluation process is defined by three elements. It is about the individual's perception of aspects of work, his values and standards, and finally his conscious or unconscious judgments related to the relationship that operates between his perception of work and his values, which is outlined in Castles (2017), Kates (2019) writings.

If the teaching profession as a whole is losing attractiveness in most regions of the world, we can conclude that educational institutions are uneven in their ability to retain and stabilize the staff.


We have conducted a comparative analysis of foreign and Russian scientific research distinguishing two types of migration: professional migration (horizontal vector) - when a teacher moves to another school; professional attrition - when a teacher changes profession. These two situations have the same consequences for an educational institution which loses a teacher. But it is very likely that motives underlying such behavior partially coincide.

Horizontal mobility is not only a phenomenon typical in the early years of a career, but it also applies to teachers who have passed the critical threshold for entry into the profession. The teaching profession differs from many other professions in that horizontal career paths are characterised by low job diversity at higher levels and hence a low probability of achieving vertical mobility. In general, after a few years of employment, the vast majority of teachers will stay in the profession for a long time.

Since a teacher spends most of his or her professional life in the classroom, the relationship maintained with pupils is of paramount importance in the personal professional development. Indeed, having a supportive climate between the teacher and the students for whom they are responsible is also an element that affects the rate of staff migration and attrition.

Thus, if we consider the migration of teachers in the economic aspect, it should be noted that federal funds will be used irrationally in such a phenomenon. Nevertheless, this process is conditioned by the difference in salaries. As Bondyreva (2007) said, migration is a problem of unmet needs.

When analyzing the literature and studies, it was found that a teacher who stays in the profession for more than one year will rarely look for another place of work or move to an outside site. At the same time, we have revealed that young personnel who, after one year in the profession, are distinguished by the desire to change the place of work or change the professional activity. Many authors see the reason in the low salary of a teacher: if we talk about small localities, the payment there is low; closer to large cities payment proportionally increases, but still cannot meet the level covering all needs of a person.

Let us compare the distinguishing features of the two definitions: labor migration and professional mobility. Labor migration is a type of migration; the aim of a person is to find a workplace with better characteristics; professional mobility is characterized by a person's ability to successfully master new knowledge in order to move from one activity to another. Thus, migration in general affects the economic development of the country. The recovery and acceleration of the economy that happens due to the inflow of migrants depends on the extent to which the labor force is successfully integrated into society and is able to refuse state subsidies. If we talk about the outflow of migration, there is a risk of leakage of trained personnel at the expense of the state, which negatively affects the economy.

From an individual perspective, beginner teachers show higher rates of migration and attrition than their more experienced colleagues. On both sides of the Atlantic, a large body of research has shown that early departures from the profession - both voluntary and involuntary - are essentially the result of an unreliable professional trajectory. In addition, teachers' initial training also affects their professional stability.

Stabilization of the teaching profession globally is becoming a key educational policy issue and a question of relevant research on teacher migration.


So, the comparative analysis of foreign and Russian academic literature has allowed us to reach the key goal of the research. We have disclosed the objectives of the article: distinguished the key problems of teacher migration; analyzed the works of Russian and foreign authors. In the academic article we have found out that the topic we have chosen is acute, because the majority of scholars regard migration from the point of view of labor, educational, intellectual, but separately the migration of teachers is found in a small extent in the foreign authors' studies. We believe that by studying the migration of teachers within the project "Study of migration of teachers and graduates of pedagogical universities between regions (causes, practices, consequences)", it will be possible to find levers and mechanisms to curb the outflow of young personnel.

All in all, the problem of specialists' dismissal and employees' migration between individual employers is a long-standing challenge, which is studied in scientific literature, especially in the field of management and human resources. Scientific works of foreign and Russian authors have made it possible to identify individual and organizational factors influencing the intention to leave a teacher's workplace. Studies of economic nature also tried to identify the role of incentives (financial) in decisions about career reorientation. Thus, a set of factors associated with both the teacher and the organization in which they work contributes to the understanding of the phenomenon of migration in the profession.


The article was prepared within the framework of the state assignment of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation № 073-03-2021-017/2 "Study of migration of teachers and graduates of pedagogical universities between regions (causes, practice, consequences)".


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Received: December 02, 2021; Accepted: April 24, 2022

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