Feb. 21st, 2019 “Educational choice and inter-regional migration”

Presenter: Elise Stenholt Sørensen

Co-author: Anders Holm

Where: Kraks Fond, Frederiksholms Kanal 30, seminar room at 11.00-12.00


Educational choice and inter-regional migration – The causal effect of secondary education on moving out of non-urban areas

We study the impact of education on inter-regional migration. The net-migration from rural to large urban areas has increased significantly during the last decades, leaving less urban areas behind with a declining population and problems with retaining the young human capital in the area. Looking at the Danish case, we see that the main driver behind this tendency is an increasing share of young adults migrating towards the large urban areas. Because young people who migrate from rural regions to larger cities typically do not return, the location decisions of young people have long-run implications for regional inequality regarding human capital and regional economic growth. Several reasons may exist to why young people move towards the largest cities: One explanation being that young people move to urban areas as they enrol in higher education. While previous studies on geographic mobility have focused on labour mobility, the interplay between choice of education and youth migration have not received much attention. This paper focuses on two questions: a) what is the causal effect of completing high school on out-migration from less-urban areas? b) and is the effect of completing high school heterogenous across socio economic background? The study is based on panel data from Danish administrative registers. We instrument the probability of moving, using distance to high school, as an instrument for choice of education, as choice of education could be endogenous. When employing this IV-approach, we find that completing high school increases young adults’ probability of moving out of a less-urban area with 41 percent. Furthermore, we find that the causal effect of completing high school is heterogeneous. The causal effect of completing high school is largest for young adults with low socioeconomic background. Therefore, an unintended consequence of locating new high schools in rural areas, could be that young adults move away, after graduation, instead of boosting the local labour market.


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