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Graduates on the move: knowledge flows and Italian regional disparities. Migration patterns of 2001 graduates

Marinelli, Elisabetta (2011) Graduates on the move: knowledge flows and Italian regional disparities. Migration patterns of 2001 graduates. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Italy is characterised by large sub-national disparities between the less developed South and the more developed Centre-North. It comes at no surprise, therefore, that it has a complex history of population flows from the South to the rest of the country. This thesis focuses on a new trend in the dynamics of internal population flows: whilst historically unskilled workers constituted the bulk of Italian migrants, in recent years, the high skilled have become increasingly mobile. As the high skilled are a crucial input to both innovative activity and economic growth, their spatial movements can potentially affect the dynamics of local development and as such, deserve thorough investigation. The work analyses this internal brain drain, focusing on recent university graduates. As a group, they are especially interesting to study: not only because, as they transit between study and work, they are particularly prone to move, but also because they have, so far, largely been neglected by scholars. Whilst the existing literature has mostly compared spatially mobile to spatially immobile individuals, this thesis distinguishes between returners (who leave the region of study to move back to their home region), migrants (who leave the region of study to move elsewhere) and stayers (who remain in the region of study). This tripartite taxonomy enables us to identify new insights on the dynamics of spatial mobility. The study draws upon a wide and interdisciplinary literature and builds an original theoretical framework to analyse the knowledge flows generated by mobile graduates. Through this framework, it carries out a comprehensive analysis of the causes and consequences of human capital mobility, at the micro, meso and macro level. The main contribution of the thesis is to explain the links between graduate flows and regional innovation. In addition, the study also explores the consequences of migration on job-satisfaction and the social nature of spatial mobility itself. Methodologically, it applies a wide array of econometric techniques to a survey on graduates’ entry in the labour market, developed by the Italian statistical office (ISTAT). At the policy level, the study sheds light on the connection between higher education, innovation and regional development, providing a new perspective on the long-standing debate on Italian sub-national inequalities

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Elisabetta Marinelli
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: von Tunzelman, Nick

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