Asymmetric international mobility of highly talented scientists is well documented. We try contributing to the explanation of this phenomenon, looking at the competitiveness of higher education systems in terms of being able to attract talented scientists in their field. We characterise countries capability to offer attractive entry positions into academic careers using the results of a large scale experiment on the determinants of job choice in academia. Examined areas refer to the level of salaries, quality of life, PhD-studies, career perspectives, research organisation, balance between teaching and research, funding and probability of working with high quality peers. Our results indicate that overall, the US research universities offer the most attractive jobs for early stage researchers, consistent with the asymmetric flow of talented scientists to the US. Behind the US is a group of well performing European countries, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Austria and Germany are next, closely followed by France, which in turn is followed by Italy. Spain and Poland are, according to our results, least able to offer attractive entry positions to an academic career.
Academic careers academic labour market university organisation brain drain