Moldova has a reasonable education system, but per capita income far below that of Mexico. I don’t see any reason why that ought to change, moving forward. Insofar as Moldova generates serious entrepreneurial talent, you would expect those individuals to leave for greener pastures, say London or even Vienna or Moscow.
(By the way, I wonder what the “new class of very poor white people” are going to be like in a generation or so, in terms of their political views, as liberalism becomes less internationally dominant.)
Sometimes I wonder which features of a country encourage the very smart people to stay there.
One possible candidate would be “very large and messy countries but with a unique ethos,” such as India or Nigeria. If you are born in Latvia, having to migrate to and live in say Frankfurt or London just isn’t that much of a life disruption from the point of view of culture, and you can be at peace with what your breakfast likely will be. It is perhaps harder to leave fufu or chapati behind.
Alternatively, Mexico would seem to be an example of a country where the most talented usually do not leave, and indeed we observe that Mexican migration to the United States is only of “average” human capital quality. Many of the most talented Mexicans are keen to stay in Mexico, where they can earn relatively high incomes, have lots of servants, pursue a variety of life styles with impunity, and enjoy higher social status than they would receive in the States. Yet perhaps those overall features — which induce the talented to stay — are also correlated with the economic, political, and social environment being somewhat dysfunctional?
Footnote: There are numerous very talented Mexican migrants from poor or possibly indigenous backgrounds. But often they do not have the core educational conditions in their upbringing to be able to mobilize their ambitions to achieve maximum productivity potential.