Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation,
Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies

No 430: Human Capital Sorting - the ‘when’ and ‘who’ of sorting of talents to urban regions

Lina Ahlin (), Martin Andersson () and Per Thulin ()
Additional contact information
Lina Ahlin: CIRCLE (Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy) and Department of Economics, Lund University., Postal: CIRCLE,, P.O Box 117, , S-22100 Lund, , Sweden.
Martin Andersson: Department of Industrial Economics, Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH), Karlskrona, and CIRCLE, Lund University., Postal: BTH, , SE-371 79 Karlskrona, , Sweden.
Per Thulin: CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Department of Industrial Economics and Management, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Entrepreneurship Forum, Stockholm., Postal: Lindstedtsvägen 30,, SE-100 44 Stockholm,, Sweden.

Abstract: Sorting of high-ability workers is a main source of urban-rural disparities in economic outcomes. Less is known about when such human capital sorting occurs and who it involves. Using data on 15 cohorts of university graduates in Sweden, we demonstrate significant sorting to urban regions on high school grades and education levels of parents, i.e. two attributes typically associated with latent abilities that are valued in the labor market. A large part of this sorting occurs already in the decision of where to study, because top universities are predominantly located in urban regions. Estimates from a selection model show that even after controlling for sorting prior to labor market entry, the ‘best and brightest’ are still more likely to start working in urban regions, and are also more likely to remain there over long time periods. We conclude that a) urban regions are true magnets for high-ability graduates, and that b) studies of human capital sorting need to account for selection processes to and from universities, because neglecting mobility prior to labor market entry is likely to to lead to underestimation of the extent of sorting to urban regions.

Keywords: human capital; university graduates; spatial sorting; migration; labor mobility; ability; geography of talent; spatial selection

JEL-codes: I23; J24; J61; R12

31 pages, March 22, 2016

Full text files

cesiswp430.pdf PDF-file 

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Vardan Hovsepyan ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2018-01-23 23:31:36.