International migration policies and data

Health Workforce Projects


New Skills for New Jobs in Health



Ensuring proper access to health care is a fundamental policy objective in all OECD countries. Achieving this objective requires, among other things, having the right number of health care providers, in the right places, to respond to the population’s needs.  However, determining what is the “right number” of different categories of doctors, nurses and other health professionals, and ensuring their proper geographic distribution, is not a simple task.

In light of concerns in many countries about imminent or projected shortages of health professional, the OECD Health Ministers have asked the Secretariat to help countries to further improve their health workforce planning and management.

As part of this project, the OECD is reviewing recent developments in health workforce planning and management in the OECD member states, in particular novel approaches to modelling the supply and demand for different categories of health workers. It will explore developments in skill requirements and the mix of skills in the health workforce, examine how policies on education, recruitment and retention of health personnel are responding to change and disseminate good practices.


1. Review and compare recent developments and novel approaches to modelling the demand and supply of health workers, develop scenarios for the future;
2. Explore a set of key issues related to skill acquisition; skill development and/or skill utilisation in the health sector, in particular skill mismatch in the health sector;
3. Analyse policy options to address health workforce education, recruitment, retention and the governance structures within which planning and management is translated into policy in the context of current or projected imbalances of different categories of health workers.



21 June 2011
: Launch of project in Health Committee meeting.

8-9 September 2011: First Meeting of the OECD Expert Group on Health Workforce Planning and Management.


Contact persons

Michael Schoenstein (
Tomoko Ono (


Health Workforce and Migration



Policy Brief on the International Migration of Health Workforce (OECD/WHO 2010)

(OECD/WHO 2010)

This joint OECD/WHO Policy Brief provides new insights on recent migration trends for doctors and nurses and discusses the main causes and consequences for destination and origin countries. Possible policy responses stressing the importance of improved international co-operation to address the global health workforce crisis are presented along with recent data.


Accès à la version française du document


Latest data on Migrant Health Workforce:

WHO related website 



Publication date:
October 2008

Pages: 95


The looming crisis of the health workforce:
How can OECD countries respond? (OECD, 2008)


Introduction | Table of contents 

How to Obtain this Publication


OECD countries face a challenge in responding to the growing demand for doctors and nurses over the next 20 years. This challenge arises in a world which is already characterised by significant international migration of health workers, both across OECD countries and between some developing countries and the OECD area.

What combination of human-resource management policies and migration policies is adopted by OECD countries? How do migration and other health workforce policies interact with each other? How can destination countries build a sustainable health workforce? What are the consequences of emigration of doctors and nurses for origin countries?

The detailed statistics, tables and charts contained in the report are available via the StatLinks printed in the book (EXCEL™).



Publication date:
9 September 2007

Pages: 399



International Migration Outlook
(OECD, 2007)


Special chapter: Immigrant Health Workers in OECD Countries in the Broader Context of Highly Skilled Migration


This chapter presents a comprehensive and relevant picture of immigrants in the health sector in OECD countries, in order to better inform the policy dialogue at national and international levels. Section one refers to different sources of data to qualify the nature and the scope of international migration of doctors and nurses in OECD countries and deals with the main issues at stake for origin countries. Section two provides an evaluation of the most recent trends and section three reviews migration policies of OECD member countries related to health professionals. The conclusion summarises the main findings and identifies the opportunities and challenges for origin and receiving countries.

The detailed statistics, tables and charts contained in the report are available via the StatLinks printed in the book (EXCEL™).


WHO-OECD hosted dialogue on migration
and other health workforce issues in a global economy
Geneva, 20-21 October 2008


The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) collaborated in the organization of the conference, "WHO-OECD Hosted Dialogue on Migration and other Health Workforce issues in a Global Economy". The core objectives of this conference are:

  • to identify priority areas for future research at international level;
  • to strengthen international collaboration on international health worker migration, including the establishment of mechanisms for monitoring flows and stocks of health professional migrants;
  • to stimulate actions in participating countries along the lines of the options discussed during the Dialogue.

Related documentation 
Dedicated WHO website

COUNTRY CASE STUDIES (published as OECD Health Working Papers)




New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States

United States



Health Workforce and Migration Data

Number of health professionals (doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists) by place of birth (circa 2001))

  Expatriation rates by country of birth (circa 2001)

  Number of doctors by place of training (circa 2005)


OECD studies on health workforce


  The Impact of Pay Increases on Nurses' Labour Market: A Review of Evidence from Four OECD Countries (2011, OECD Health WP No. 57)

 Nurses in Advanced Roles: A Description and Evaluation of Experiences in 12 Developed Countries (2010, OECD Health WP No. 54)

 Les Pratiques Infirmières Avancées : Une Description et Évaluation des Expériences dans 12 Pays Développés

 The Long-Term Care Workforce: Overview and Strategies to Adapt Supply to a Growing Demand (2009, OECD Health WP, No. 44)
 The Remuneration of General Practitioners and Specialists in 14 OECD Countries (2008, OECD Health WP No. 41)
 The Supply of Physician Services in OECD Countries (2006, OECD Health WP No. 21)

 Tackling Nurse Shortages in OECD Countries (2005, OECD Health WP No. 19)



 Skill-Mix and Policy Change in the Health Workforce: Nurses in Advanced Roles (2004, OECD Health WP No. 17)

 The international mobility of health professionals: An evaluation and analysis based on the case of South Africa (Trends in International Migration, SOPEMI, OECD, 2003)


Other websites

Other OECD ongoing projects related to health workforce


 Long term care workforce and international migration. A recently published OECD report analyses the growing demand for human resources in the long-term care sector. Drawing from selected OECD countries’ experience, the study provides an overview of the long-term care workforce policies to build adequate human resources for the provision of long-term care - including improving retention, training and international recruitment. It also discusses challenges to address workforce shortages.


How to obtain the publication: The Looming Crisis of the Health Workforce?

Readers can access the full version via the following options:

Permanent URL:


Related Documents


International Migration Outlook 2007

A Profile of Immigrant Populations in the 21st Century: Data from OECD Countries

Jobs for Immigrants (Vol. 1): Labour Market Integration in Australia, Denmark, Germany and Sweden

Analytical Health Projects


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