CfP: Highly skilled migration, women and time geography, beyond mere human capital resource (EUGEO Conference 2019)

Session Title: Highly skilled migration, women and time geography, beyond mere human capital resource

Session Convenors: Camilla Spadavecchia and Ana María González Ramos, (C.Spadavecchia) Tilburg University and (A.M.G. Ramos)  IN3 -Universidad Abierta de Cataluña

Abstract: The population decline together with the shortage of skilled labor and the global competition for ‘the best and the brightest’, challenged European countries over the last two decades to develop policies to attract and retain high-skilled migrants (Cerna and Czaika, 2016). Recent data on the percentage of tertiary educated among migrant women in OECD countries (28%) (World Bank, 2016) challenges scholars to reflect on the importance of the gender dimension of highly skilled migration. Studies show that migration is part of the life path of many highly skilled people; it constitutes a life project, which influences the individual, her/his origin community and the destination (Kou Bailey and Van Wissen, 2009, Kofman and Raghuram, 2006; Aure, 2013, Gonzales Ramos 2013, Spadavecchia, 2017). In order to understand the impact of highly skilled migration in origin and destination countries, it is useful to look at the phenomenon from the point of view of the highly qualified people and to investigate the relationship between migration and wellbeing (IOM, 2013). For this purpose, studies can benefit from both time geography and life course approaches, for which people’s biographies and the interconnection between space, historical and individual time is essential in the analysis. In this scenario, many aspects are interesting for scholars and stakeholders; for example creating a theoretical framework,  public policy, and required resources for making easier and efficient the life course of highly skilled people. Migrants’ legal entry as experts or highly qualified workers, in particular highly skilled and intra-company schemes, represent only one part of the complex picture of highly skilled migration. In fact, many are the highly qualified people whose migration is not directly connected or dependent on their qualification (Spadavecchia, 2017). By recognizing this complexity, we can also include in the “highly skilled migrants” category highly qualified people entering countries as refugees or “spouses”, or self-initiated expatriates; these groups require specific attention. This distinction challenges the idea of labor migrants as mere economic bodies or “human capital”. It allows us to view these groups as people who also engage in the demographic and social behavior of destination territories and communities (Kõu, van Wissen and Bailey; 2009). In this session, we encourage both theoretical and empirical contributions that challenge the idea of highly skilled migration as mere human capital.


  • Highly qualified migrants who hold diverse migration statuses, such as (e.g.) expats, students, refugee, partners or spouses.
  • Impact on their lives and their family lives as migrants and transnational families.
  • Studies spanning the links between highly skilled migration, gender, and well-being.
  • Relationships between highly skilled migrants and their origin communities or, inversely, with their host communities
  • Empirical studies on highly skilled migration that make use of time geography and/or life course approach
  • Theoretical papers on the use of life histories studies in human geography are welcome.

Please send your abstracts (maximum 250 words) to Camilla Spadavecchia ( and Ana María González Ramos ( by January 21st 2019.