IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Human Capital Accumulation and Migration in a Peripheral EU Region: the Case of Basilicata


  • Nicola D. Coniglio


  • Francesco Prota



The importance of human capital as a key source of value added, innovation and economic growth is widely acknowledged by both economists and policy-makers. Local governments can directly affect individuals’ decision making by subsidising human capital formation. The ability of a regional system to generate human capital is crucial but it is not a sufficient condition leading to economic success. In this work we emphasise the importance of maintaining and attracting high-skilled individuals, and the challenge that migration flows pose on policymaking aimed at fostering human capital accumulation. Human capital does not always benefits the region where it was funded and the scope for the policy might vanish if the human capital formed locally is lost through migration, as emphasised by the “brain drain” literature. When agglomeration forces are at work, human capital migrates from where it is scarce to where it is abundant, rather than vice versa (Lucas 1988). This can result in migration widening the regional wage and income gap and lowering the standard of living in the peripheral location. Poor regions lose through migration their most valuable residents, the main source of innovation and productivity in a modern economy. This phenomenon contributes in explaining the persistent nature of regional economic imbalances. These consideration are highlighted through the analysis of a case study, the migration decision of a sample of highly educated and skilled individuals residing in a small peripheral Mezzogiorno region (Basilicata) which have benefited from a locally funded human capital investment policy. The regional policymakers, in recognition of the importance of human capital as a key ingredient for regional growth, have given generous subsidies since the beginning of the 90s to young graduates who wanted to attend a post-graduate course outside or inside the region. More than a thousand individuals have benefited from the policy in the last decade, and the target for the period 2000-2006 is to subsidise an additional two thousand individuals. A dataset was generated through a survey questionnaire which aims at directly asking people about their decision whether or not to move and the main factors influencing their decision. For each individual, we have collected data on background, experience and outcome of higher education, opinion on the quality of the course attended, job-search strategy after the course, and space-time career details from the first employment to the current employment status. The policy intervention under scrutiny and in particular the biased nature of the sample (highly skilled and educated individuals) makes the analysis a natural experiment for assessing the ability of the regional system in a peripheral EU region not only to generate human capital but also to maintain it. The focus of the paper is on the micro level migratory behaviour. In particular, we want to shed light on the following questions: (1) Who are the migrants; (2) What are the main factors influencing migration; (3) What is the resulting “geography” of the human capital generated? Is the human capital attracted toward core regions?

Suggested Citation

  • Nicola D. Coniglio & Francesco Prota, 2003. "Human Capital Accumulation and Migration in a Peripheral EU Region: the Case of Basilicata," ERSA conference papers ersa03p157, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa03p157

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicola D. Coniglio, 2002. "Regional Intergration and Migration: An Economic Geography Model with Hetergenous Labour Force," Working Papers 2003_1, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Viktor Venhorst & Jouke Van Dijk & Leo Van Wissen, 2011. "An Analysis of Trends in Spatial Mobility of Dutch Graduates," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 57-82.
    2. Gabrielle Demange & Robert Fenge & Silke Uebelmesser, 2020. "Competition in the quality of higher education: the impact of student mobility," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(5), pages 1224-1263, October.
    3. Maud M. Hensen & M. Robert De Vries & Frank Cörvers, 2009. "The role of geographic mobility in reducing education‐job mismatches in the Netherlands," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(3), pages 667-682, August.
    4. Nifo, Annamaria & Pagnotta, Stefano & Scalera, Domenico, 2011. "The best and brightest. Selezione positiva e brain drain nelle migrazioni interne italiane [The best and brightest. Positive selection and brain drain in Italian internal migrations]," MPRA Paper 34506, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Didier Fouarge & Merve Nezihe Özer & Philipp Seegers, 2019. "Personality traits, migration intentions, and cultural distance," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(6), pages 2425-2454, December.
    6. Riccardo Crescenzi & Luisa Gagliardi & Enrico Orru', 2016. "Learning mobility grants and skill (mis)matching in the labour market: The case of the ‘Master and Back’ Programme," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 95(4), pages 693-707, November.
    7. Gabrielle Demange & Robert Fenge & Silke Uebelmesser, 2008. "The Provision of Higher Education in a Global World—Analysis and Policy Implications," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 54(2), pages 248-276.
    8. Riccardo Crescenzi & Nancy Holman & Enrico Orru’, 2017. "Why do they return? Beyond the economic drivers of graduate return migration," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 59(3), pages 603-627, November.
    9. Jens Südekum, 2005. "The Pitfalls of Regional Education Policy," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 61(3), pages 327-352, November.
    10. Annamaria Nifo & Domenico Scalera & Gaetano Vecchione, 2020. "Does skilled migration reduce investment in human capital? An investigation on educational choices in Italian regions (2001–2016)," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(4), pages 781-802, November.
    11. Herbst, Mikolaj & Rok, Jakub, 2013. "Mobility of human capital and its effect on regional economic development. Review of theory and empirical literature," MPRA Paper 45755, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Eveline S. Van Leeuwen, 2010. "The effects of future retail developments on the local economy: Combining micro and macro approaches," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 89(4), pages 691-710, November.
    13. Aurelian-Petruș Plopeanu & Daniel Homocianu & Nelu Florea & Ovidiu-Aurel Ghiuță & Dinu Airinei, 2019. "Comparative Patterns of Migration Intentions: Evidence from Eastern European Students in Economics from Romania and Republic of Moldova," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(18), pages 1-21, September.
    14. Alexander Haupt & Silke Uebelmesser, 2014. "Labour Market Integration, Human Capital Formation, and Mobility," Jena Economic Research Papers 2014-020, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    15. Ye Liu & Jianfa Shen, 2014. "Spatial patterns and determinants of skilled internal migration in China, 2000–2005," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(4), pages 749-771, November.
    16. Viktor Venhorst & Jouke Van Dijk & Leo Van Wissen, 2010. "Do The Best Graduates Leave The Peripheral Areas Of The Netherlands?," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 101(5), pages 521-537, December.
    17. Kidd, Michael P. & O'Leary, Nigel & Sloane, Peter, 2017. "The impact of mobility on early career earnings: A quantile regression approach for UK graduates," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 90-102.
    18. Carlos Villalobos Barría, 2012. "Internal Migration and its Impact on Reducing Inter-communal Disparities in Chile," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 220, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Richard E. Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2006. "Heterogeneous firms, agglomeration and economic geography: spatial selection and sorting," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(3), pages 323-346, June.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa03p157. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.