Human capital drift up the urban hierarchy: veterinarians in Western Canada
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Olfert, M.R., Jelinski, M., Zikos, D. et al. Ann Reg Sci (2012) 49: 551. doi:10.1007/s00168-011-0448-2
- 231 Downloads
Attracting human capital is key to the participation of rural areas in national and global economic growth, especially in a knowledge economy. Professional services industries are increasingly concentrating in cities due to both greater market potential and the critical role of frequent face-to-face contact. From the labor supply perspective, urban areas offer the full range of urban amenities, a large pool of employers allowing for improved skills matching as well as better employment prospects for two income-earner families. Rural areas, on the other hand, offer rural lifestyles and natural amenities, location attributes that have dominated in regional migrations in the United States, for example. Concentration of professionals in cities could thus simply reflect the urban concentration of the demand for their services, rather than a labor supply location choice. In this study, we examine the location choices of veterinarians in western Canada, as an example of highly trained professionals for whom there is a rural demand base in the livestock industry. Our results show that a rural community’s attractiveness for veterinarians is more responsive to its population size than to the livestock concentrations. Further, the presence of professional peers and a vibrant rural community is an added advantage. We conclude that the urban location choices of veterinarians are in part labor supply choices rather than only the imperatives of labor demand.