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Interpreting the Geography of Human Capital Stock Variations

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel FranklinORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Springer, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


A wealth of research has documented the importance of human capital for economic growth and development. While much of this body of research focuses on estimating the relationship between some economic outcome and, generally, levels of educational attainment, a subsidiary corpus of research has developed that focuses on documenting and explaining the geographic variation in human capital stocks that exists. The popular press, in its turn, has also adopted human capital stocks as a proxy for urban and regional vibrancy. Little attention has been focused on what, in fact, constitutes a talent or human capital magnet and how different measures of a seemingly straightforward concept might not only generate different results but might also be capturing more than simply levels of educational attainment. This chapter uses data on educational attainment—the share of the population with at least a college degree—for US metropolitan areas in 2000 and 2010 to conceptualize what is meant by a human capital or talent magnet and to highlight a few ways in which results might be driven by definition and measure. Of particular interest are the roles of age structure, migration, and relative performance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Franklin RS

Editor(s): Franklin, RS

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Population, Place, and Spatial Interaction

Year: 2019

Pages: 73-94

Online publication date: 24/11/2019

Acceptance date: 02/09/2019

Series Title: New Frontiers in Regional Science: Asian Perspectives

Publisher: Springer

Place Published: Singapore


DOI: 10.1007/978-981-13-9231-3_5

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9789811392306