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Northern cities and urban–rural migration of university-qualified labour in Australia and Sweden: Spillovers, sponges, or disconnected city–hinterland geographies?
journal contributionposted on 11.10.2021, 23:46 by Doris A Carson, Dean CarsonDean Carson, Linus Lundström
This article examines the migration flows of university-qualified labour (UQL) between cities and hinterland regions in the sparsely populated north of both Australia and Sweden. These peripheries have become increasingly urbanised in recent decades and have received substantial investment in urban higher education hubs that are expected to generate skills for their regions. Whether these skills remain within the few urban centres or are redistributed internally to benefit rural and remote locations is not known. The article identifies the extent to which there have been urban–rural ‘spillover’ or ‘sponge’ effects in UQL migration flows within the north and establishes whether there has been a ‘disconnect’ in the regional exchange of UQL. Drawing on recent Australian census and Swedish register data, the results suggest that ‘spillover’ and ‘sponging’ of UQL have been limited, particularly in Northern Australia where cities appeared quite disconnected from their hinterlands. Spillover was more common in Northern Sweden, but cities with universities targeting regional skill needs did not necessarily generate more net-migration gains for their hinterland. The discussion illustrates why urban–rural human capital relationships in northern peripheries may be more diverse and complex than assumed and flags what policy lessons can be drawn from comparing different northern peripheries.