Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

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Black Swan event

Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2010 [2007]) proposed the concept to describe an unexpected and allegedly unforeseeable event with extreme impact, whose occurrence, albeit being highly improbable, is framed as explainable and predictable in retrospect. The refugee movements of 2015/2016, which are often referred to as the European refugee ‘crisis,’ can be characterized as a Black Swan, given that unprecedented numbers of refugees from the Middle East came to Europe during this period (De Coninck et al. 2021, 7). The so-called march of hope on September 4, 2015 in particular is an unexpected event with extreme impact: More than a thousand refugees, stuck at Keleti train station in Budapest because Hungarian authorities did not allow them to continue their journey with a valid passport and Schengen visa, decided to set off on foot toward the Austrian border (Gebauer 2023, 13); Hungary decided to provide transport and Germany to suspend border controls.

⇢ see also Crisis, Crisis narration, Event modeling, Narrative

References and further reading:

De Coninck, David, Stefan Mertens, and Leen D’Haenens. 2021. “Cross-Country Comparison of Media Selection and Attitudes towards Narratives on Migration.” KU Leuven. [Working paper of the OPPORTUNITIES project 101004945 – H2020.]

Gebauer, Carolin. 2023. “German Welcome Culture Then and Now: How Crisis Narration Can Foster (Contested) Solidarity with Migrants.” University of Wuppertal. [Working paper of the OPPORTUNITIES project 101004945 – H2020.]

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. 2010 [2007]. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. London: Penguin Books.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5



Brain drain

In the context of migration, the term brain drain must be distinguished from that of brain gain: “Brain drain is the loss suffered by a region [or country] as a result of the emigration of a (highly) qualified [or skilled] person, while brain gain is when a country benefits as a consequence of immigration of a highly qualified person.” (Srivastava 2020, n.p.)

Brain drain is increasingly being fostered through the creation of advice centers for migrants in host countries (see Tandian 2023), yet it is a loss to the countries of origin. In the short to medium term (e.g., 1–5 years) brain drain reduces the human capital of a region or country, as it takes time and resources to train people unless emigrating people are replaced by immigrants with similar skills. In the long term (e.g., 5–10 years) brain drain could be managed by training and education of those who have not migrated, and again by immigration.

⇢ see also Highly skilled migrant, Labor migration, Migration

References and further reading:

Srivastava, Shubhaangi. 2020. “Brain Drain vs. Brain Gain.” Assembly of European Regions. URL:

Tandian, Aly. 2023. “Germany’s New Migration Policy Could Take Away Vital Talent from Several African Countries.” The Conversation. February 28, 2023. URL:

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7

[AT / MM]