PRESENTATION DATE: Thursday, March 21, 2013

TOPIC: Attracting Highly Educated Migrants for
Regional Economic Growth – Is this a Viable Solution to All?

Abstract: In a globalized knowledge-based economy, most of regional development policies in practice have been developed to attract highly-skilled workers for regional economic growth. But, is this a viable and sustainable policy for the economic growth in the long-run, especially for a region without a solid foundation for a knowledge-based economy? This paper focuses on the flows of a highly educated population in the U.S., especially in those states that have an advanced science and technology infrastructure facing recent financial and economic crisis. Descriptive analysis on educational profile of migrants indicates that a highly educated population is more mobile and tends to migrate longer distances. Education status of in-migrants to the top 20 states with advanced science and technology infrastructure is higher than that of stayers and out-migrants. This cumulative causation in human capital accumulation in these states leads to the widened regional disparity in educational attainment with recent economic crisis. The proposed log-linear gravity model for interstate migrants over 25 years old with at least a master’s degree identified pulling and pushing factors. Stock of existing highly educated human capital in destination attracts highly educated migrants from other states and the pulling effect of the stock has strengthened over time with recent economic crisis. Discouraging effect of cost for highly educated migrants to the state with advanced science and technology infrastructure has decreased with the recent economic and financial crisis. Higher per capita Gross State Product in destination state attracts highly educated migrants only to the top 20 states. This paper calls an attention for policy makers to review their existing infrastructure for knowledge-based economic development and helps identify the relevant factors for pulling and pushing a highly educated workforce based on current development stage. The findings from this paper may provide a guideline for state economic development professionals to make a decision whether to focus on attracting highly educated human capital or alternatively, to put more resources to strengthen the foundation for knowledge-based economic development.