IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Brain Drain or Brain Gain? Graduate Migration in Old Industrial Regions - Analysis of the Central Lower Rhine Area, Germany

Listed author(s):
  • Angelika Jaeger


  • Fabian Kreutzer
Registered author(s):

    The influence of tertiary education on the economic development of a region is a topic of special interest and prevalent object of studies and discussions of regional economists. Universities are frequently referred to as 'creative hubs'. Researching universities are generally expected to be one of the key institutions around which growth occurs, determining the direction of regional economic development. Especially the large number of highly-educated graduates is of eminent importance in terms of regional competitive advantages. If graduates remain in the university's region, they form and enrich a highly educated labour force and support knowledge and innovation transfer from the university to the regional economy, networks, and enterprises. Human capital has traditionally been observed to be one of the most important resources of regions and one of the key factors explaining economic growth. In any economic region, gaining insights into the phenomenon of regional graduate migration and the determinants and reasons behind it is highly relevant for regional economic analysis and a prerequisite for policy recommendations. This holds especially true for old industrial regions with structural problems and low economic growth potential - as the Central Lower Rhine Area in North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, subject of this study. These regions depend on knowledge and innovation transfer from universities to overcome problems associated with industrial structural changes and market turmoil, and to face problematic trends as the forthcoming demographic development. The research aim of this article is to analyse the migration of graduates in the Central Lower Rhine Area by assessing the regional 'brain flow' originating from the Niederrhine University of Applied Sciences (NR UAS), its only institution of higher education. More detailed objectives concern the assessment of the distribution of migration patterns, migration motives, graduate characteristics influencing the migration decision, and the comparison of actual migration patterns with migration preferences. Our results show that for the Central Lower Rhine Area, the associated regional brain drain resulting from graduate emigration cannot be compensated by extra-regional brain gain. A likely reason for this is a deficit of absorption capacity exhibited by the regional economy: A large proportion of graduates migrate due to difficulties finding an adequate job, or respectively, are attracted by economically better performing regions. Furthermore, econometric analysis identifies certain graduate characteristics influencing the migration decision. Remarkably, the migration decision is only marginally influenced by soft location factors like quality of living, regional image, or recreational amenities. Summarized, the research findings describe, interpret, and explain the regional graduate migration patterns and motives and indicate interesting implications. JEL classification: I 23, O15 Keywords: University Graduates, Migration Patterns, Determinants and Motives, Alumni Network

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa12p734.

    in new window

    Date of creation: Oct 2012
    Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa12p734
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria

    Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa12p734. 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)

    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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.