Internal migration of higher education graduates in Belgium

Lena Imeraj, Didier Willaert, Nissa Finney

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


Research has shown that highly educated people are the most mobile in the first years following graduation, reflecting the search for a job in combination with family formation. Yet, it remains unclear to what extent settlement patterns of young graduates are related to the location of their higher education institution.
In this paper we study the internal migration of higher education graduates in Belgium. In particular, we investigate the propensity of graduates to move to the city where they studied for higher education and the degree to which cities are able to retain these graduates within the region 4-8 years after graduation. The analyses are based on the 2001 Belgian census, linked with population register data containing information on geographical mobility for the period 2001-2010. This dataset is unique since it includes characteristics of the full population (i.e. not a sample survey).
Of all the 19-23 year old graduates who studied for higher education in the metropolitan cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Liège in 2001 (but were not domiciled there during their studies), between 15 and 20% had moved to that city and still resided there in 2010. Students who lived in student accommodation during their studies (and thus are already more familiar with the city) have a higher likelihood than others of moving to that city after home leaving. In the multivariate analyses, the characteristics of higher education graduates who migrate to the city and stay there for a number of years are further explored and compared to the migration behaviour of other graduates. Explanatory variables include characteristics measured at the individual, household and regional level.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPaper presented at the 7th International Conference on Population Geographies
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2013
Event7th International Conference on Population Geographies - Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Jun 201328 Jun 2013


Conference7th International Conference on Population Geographies


  • internal migration
  • higher education students
  • Belgium


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