DO THE BEST GRADUATES LEAVE THE PERIPHERAL AREAS OF THE NETHERLANDS?

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ABSTRACT

There is more and more empirical evidence to show that highly skilled people are an important determinant of economic growth. Consequently, policy-makers are eager to keep their graduates in the region or attract graduates from elsewhere. It is also well known that people with a higher level of education exhibit high rates of spatial mobility. Much less is known about mobility patterns according to discipline and academic grade. Do the best people stay or leave, and does this vary according to discipline and type of region? This paper investigates the relationship between ability, field of study and spatial mobility using a micro-dataset on Dutch university and college graduates. The findings indicate that there are substantial net flows mainly towards the economic centre of the Netherlands, but that there are also flows between peripheral regions and to other countries. The paper finds that university graduates are more spatially mobile than vocational college level graduates and that when one looks at spatial behaviour according to discipline, there are also striking differences between graduates. This, however, does not necessarily mean that peripheral regions also lose their best graduates. For several disciplines, employers in the peripheral areas are able to retain the graduates with the highest grades, contrary to what the standard human capital framework predicts. However, the study finds that if graduates leave the region, those with the highest grades are more likely to move abroad.

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