Iran’s 40-year ‘brain drain’

One in 4 of Iran’s most educated citizens leave their country when given the opportunity. They leave in search of greater social and religious freedoms and for better employment opportunities.

Photo of women in academic robes with text saying how many educated Iranians leave Iran each year (State Dept./J. Maruszewski)
(State Dept./J. Maruszewski)

“People are selling their computers, rugs, phones and jewelry to collect money” to leave the country, a travel agent in Tehran told the Wall Street Journal in February. She said her company had “handled a significantly higher number of applicants for visas, particularly to Europe.”

Iran has one of the highest rates of citizens leaving their homeland — an estimated 5 million Iranians have left the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. One of the reasons many Iranians are leaving is because the country’s corrupt government denies its people human rights and systematically arrests and executes members of religious minorities for practicing their faith.