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National Mobility Among the Swedish Tertiary Educated

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Aimee Haley
Publicerad i European Conference of Educational Researchers (ECER), Budapest, Hungary, 7-11 September
Publiceringsår 2015
Publicerad vid Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik
Språk en
Ämnesord higher education, migration, social space, gender
Ämneskategorier Utbildningsvetenskap


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 (HEI) 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 student groups stay in the region where they studied, who returns to their home region if they initially moved to study, and who moves to an entirely new region 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 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 differing motivations and subsequent migration choices. 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 countries such as the Netherlands (Venhorst, van Dijk, & van Wissen, 2011) and the UK (Faggian & McCann, 2009). This study is longitudinal and analyzes the entire Swedish population born between 1973 and 1978 who studied at a (HEI) in Sweden for at least two years. Registry data is used. The most recent data is from 2007 when this population was aged between 25 and 30 years. The earliest cohorts have reached an age when they are likely to have established residence in a particular area. When comparing the outcome of the earliest cohorts with the latest, age and life stage are considered. Background variables such as gender, region where HE was undertaken, region of residence prior to undertaking HE, field of educational studies, and educational achievements are used in the analysis. Regression analysis is used in order to identify the proportion of tertiary educated individuals who fall within the mover, stayer, and returner categories given their personal background and educational characteristics. This paper provides insight on the contexts from which different populations of the Swedish tertiary educated make decisions regarding their established residence. Whether or not the tertiary educated choose to move or to stay in a region depends on a number of social space factors. Given the results of prior research (Faggian, McCann, & Sheppard, 2007; Venhorst, van Dijk, & van Wissen, 2010), whether or not the tertiary educated move from the region of their HEI is likely to be determined by a combination of human capital and labor market features, which relates to the type and extent of education they pursued. A contribution of this paper is to also explore how gender intersects with these features to affect migration behavior. Studying migration of the tertiary educated from an educational and gender perspective contributes knowledge to a field that has been extensively researched from economic, business, and sociological perspectives.

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