ERG SES D 09, Tertiary and Lifelong Education
While international migration and brain drain have been the focus of much research as of late (Solimano, 2008), national migration of the tertiary educated has received less attention (Hansen & Niedomysl, 2009; Wikhall, 2002). This study focuses on the movement of human capital by way of tertiary educated individuals in Sweden. Higher education institutions have a key role in the development of human capital within a population; however, the role these institutions have in redistributing this human capital to surrounding areas remains unclear.
The focus of this paper is on the residential transitions of the tertiary educated in Sweden following their studies. Thus, the primary question this study seeks to answer is: Which graduates stay in the region in which they studied and who moves after completing their studies?
Swedish university colleges were established to meet the growing needs of local labor markets and to educate individuals outside urban areas. The intent was for these institutions to increase educational access and to stimulate local economies and the growth of innovative ideas (Danilda & Granat Thorslund, 2011). However, data from the Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets och Högskolerådet) shows that highly educated individuals tend to move to Sweden’s largest cities before beginning their studies and upon completion if they studied outside the larger metropolitan areas (HSV, 2011).
Research on the migration of the tertiary educated has often been linked to regional economics, labor markets, and educational pathways. Individual and familial demographics and relationships have also been key elements of analysis to understand these migration patterns. Background factors such as gender, social class, and home region have a role in forming students’ perceptions of employment opportunities and ultimately have a role in their employment and migratory decisions (Kivinen, Ahola, & Hedman, 2001; Wikhall, 2002; Williams, 2009). An analysis of these factors through the conceptual lens of social space provides insight on the differing motivations and subsequent migration choices of the tertiary educated.
Individuals’ social space (Bourdieu, 1989; 1985), such as their educational pathways, prior migration behavior, gender, and socio-economic background shape individuals’ perceptions, so they are expected to impact the migration behaviors of the tertiary educated in this study. Gender is of particular interest since it intersects individuals’ early educational decisions, leading to gender differentiation in fields of study, which transfers to the labor market. Thus, regional gendered economies and labor market structures (ie. regions with jobs geared predominantly towards one gender) in relation to migration behaviors are also of interest.
The influence of gendered space on migration behavior is taken into account in the analysis. Furthermore, the results are discussed in relation to outcomes from similar research in other European countries such as the Netherlands (Venhorst, van Dijk, & van Wissen, 2011) and the United Kingdom (Faggian & McCann, 2009).
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