Anda di halaman 1dari 75

First employment location and residential location

decisions of TU Delft graduates

Report of graduation project in Engineering & Policy Analysis

Graduation candidate
Nicolò Wojewoda, stud. nr. 1334662
Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management
Delft University of Technology

Thesis committee
prof. dr. Marina van Geenhuizen, chair
dr. Ronald Dekker, 1st reader
dr. ir. Bert Enserink, 2nd reader

FINAL DRAFT - 8th August 2008

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike
3.0 Netherlands License. To view a copy of this license, visit
licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nl/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite
300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
As a TU Delft graduate wannabe, at the end of the second year of my studies I found
myself deciding on the next step in my personal and professional life. I had been
fascinated for a long time with best cities or countries to live and work in and the occasion
proved to be appropriate to put that knowledge into practice and develop my “choose the
next best place” algorithm.

Richard Florida said it best, when he wrote that the what (what do you want to do as a
career) and the who (whom to choose as your life partner) are the two biggest decisions in
your life, but perhaps the where has an equal if not bigger effect, since it often determines
an answer to the other two.

Had it not been a graduation project, my research would have still had a strong appeal, for
me to understand better what to consider and how to do it, when deciding upon my next
step in life and work. Fortunately, it was even more than that, providing me with a learning
experience and a chance to make a real impact with the concepts, tools and methods Iʼve
learned in these two years as a student of Engineering & Policy Analysis. I sincerely hope
the results of this study will give interested stakeholders a glimpse of what the current
generation of young graduates has on their minds, allowing them to shape more relevant
and focused policies for the places they live and work in.

This research could have not happened without the precious cooperation of Stefanie
Kirwald and the Alumnivereniging TU Delft, the indispensable feedback of Marina van
Geenhuizen, Ronald Dekker and Bert Enserink and the loving support of my friends and
family. I owe them all a big debt of gratitude and I hope this study stands as a testimony of
the experience we enjoyed together in these last five months.

This work is dedicated to my mom and dad, whom I love and thank for supporting me
throughout these years and who, I hope, will finally understand what their son is studying
and be able to explain that to their relatives and friends!

Delft, July 2008

Table of contents
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Research context 1
1.2 Research objectives 5
1.3 Research questions 5
1.4 Significance of the study 6
1.5 Structure of the report 7

2 Methodology 8
2.1 Overview 8
2.2 Literature review 9
2.3 Conceptual approach 10
2.4 Survey design 10
2.5 Survey analysis 14

3 Theoretical background 16
3.1 Existing theories and models 16
3.2 A new conceptual approach 19
3.3 Hypotheses 26

4 Results of the empirical study 28

4.1 Overview 28
4.2 Movers and stayers 31
4.3 Factors behind graduatesʼ decision 38
4.4 Profiles of movers and stayers 41
4.5 Insights in the decision-making process 49

5 Conclusion 51
5.1 Results of the research 51
5.2 Policy implications 53
5.3 Reflection on theoretical insights 54
5.4 Strengths and weaknesses of the study 55

References 57

Appendix A: Keywords 60

Appendix B: Survey transcript 63

Understanding where TU Delft students locate after graduation, for living or working, as
well as highlighting the reasons for those choices have been the fundamental purposes of
this study. The relevance of such topic is related to two connected factors that have
emerged in the preliminary research activities: first of all, graduates are a particular sector
of the population of a city, region or country who have a high potential impact on its socio-
economic system, in terms of growth, employment and other issues; secondly, Delft, its
relevant regional unit of analysis Haaglanden, and the whole Netherlands have embarked
in the last years on the development of an economy based on knowledge as the key
enabler for growth. This link makes it compelling for Delft, Haaglanden and all the other
urban and regional stakeholders to understand the mechanism that drive these young
knowledge workers away from the area or make them stay in it, in order to develop
policies that either reverse an existing negative trend or strenghten a positive one.

When it comes to location decisions, existing theories and models canʼt provide an all-
encompassing solution to understand the problem at hand. Most of the existing studies
highlight specific factors that have an influence in the decision (e.g. utility, abstract needs),
others present statistics on the decisionsʼ outcomes, others instead focus on the process
of the decision and the context in which it takes place.
Therefore, a new conceptual approach was introduced, which would interpret and
synthetise the existing research themes into a new perspective that could be eventually
used to study the case under analyis. In this new approach, there are three basic
components: the factors that influence a graduateʼs decision on where to locate next for
living or working purposes; the decision-making process itself and its elements; the
decision-making outcomes and the related attributes. Such new perspective would have
allowed an empirical study of the links between factors and outcomes, among factors
themselves, or simply the understanding of outcome values. To this goal, the elements
involved had been operationalized in order to allow statistical analyses to be performed.
Also, a few hypotheses were introduced, that formalized existing claims from previous
studies or from common knowledge.

In order to put numbers in those variables and test the hypotheses associated with this
new perspective, a questionnaire was delivered to a subgroup of the TU Delft graduatesʼ
population, representing the cohorts of 2007 and 2002. The questionnaire, in the form of
an online survey, had 142 full respondents, which considering the total number of
graduates invited to answer the questionnaire, corresponds to a response rate of around
20%. Although bias was present in many forms, the resulting sample was fairly
representative of the TU Delft graduatsʼ population, allowing a few basic statistical
analyses to be performed on the survey data.

The results of the survey showed first that, when it comes to residential location choices,
Randstad (84.4% of graduates locating there) and especially South Holland (67.2%) are
the most attractive regions, whereas less than half (46.1%) of the graduates decides to
locate in Haaglanden and even less (30.5%) to stay in Delft.
Analyses show that having oneʼs partner/spouse close and housing opportunities are the
two most important living environment-related factors in the choice of a residential location.
Delft scored quite low on both aspects, since only about half of the graduates admitted
they were satisfied with them.

First employment location choices show even more preoccupying results for the local
stakeholders, with Randstad (81.5%) and South Holland (53.2%) still managing to attract a
considerable portion of the graduatesʼ population, but Haaglanden (29%) and Delft
(16.9%) falling way behind their figures for residential location choices.
In fact, an analysis of the perceptions of factors that influence the graduatesʼ decisions
shows that having an interesting and challenging job, as well as opportunities for career
development, although being the most important criteria for the choice of a first
employment location (respectively, 82% and 73% of the respondents consider them very
important or more), are among the factors that graduates are mostly dissatisfied with in
Delft (only about half of the respondents are satisfied with them).

What emerges from the results of this study is a picture that highlights the incapacity of
Delft and Haaglanden to retain their graduates, especially when it comes to working
purposes. Unfortunately, analyses havenʼt provided any useful insights on factors that can
be affected by policies and therefore the room for action seems to be pretty narrow at this
point. However, the limitations of the study have to be considered and further research will
hopefully shed some light on possible graduate retention strategies for the benefit of the
local economy.
1 Introduction
1.1 Research context
Economic development is often mentioned as one of the pillars of social and individual
well-being: increasing the wealth of a nation by creating jobs, growing incomes, improving
literacy rates and life expectancy and, in general, achieving a better quality of life is both
on most political agendas and in the minds and hearts of individuals, families and
communities around the planet.
Throughout the millennia of human existence and especially in the recent centuries of
accelerated growth of the worldʼs economies, various factors have been put on the
spotlight as key enablers of economic development: what for Adam Smith was the division
of labour and what for David Ricardo was the comparative advantage between nations,
todayʼs key ingredient in economic development is often considered to be knowledge, so
much so as to generate a related buzzword, knowledge economy, which policy-makers
and researchers alike have been focusing increasingly more on in the last decades.
The European Union has been pursuing since the year 2000 the goal of becoming “the
most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” (European
Council, 2000) and the Netherlands has been following suit since then. In fact, a series of
government policies (e.g. the Ministry of Economic Affairʼs “Action for innovation”) and
public debates initiated by non-governmental actors (e.g. Kennislandʼs “Knowledge
Economy Monitor 2003”) have been discussing and providing suggestions for progress on
this matter. But what is really the knowledge economy all about?

The knowledge economy

The term knowledge economy has been used to indicate a variety of concepts related to
the importance of knowledge in our current economic processes (Godin, 2006); regardless
of the specific definition, the underlying importance of the topic is such that countries at all
levels of economic development are embarking on economies based on the creation,
acquisition, consumption and diffusion of knowledge (World Bank, 1998).
Godin (2006) notes that the biggest proponents of the knowledge economy, such as the
OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), have been evaluating
progress in that area mostly in terms of investment in research and development.
However, both OECD publications (OECD, 2002) and recent literature suggest that the
dimensions of innovation (Raspe & van Oort, 2006) and especially human capital
(Mellander & Florida, 2006; Raspe & van Oort, 2006) play a big role in such development
as well.
The educational systems in our countries take part in the process of enhancement of
human capital and are therefore one of the main elements of interest in the debate about
the development of knowledge workers, the highly skilled workforce powering any
knowledge-based economy. It is really important, therefore, for those educational systems
to add value to the existing human capital of a country, region, city or community; even

more, as high labour productivity per unit hour still remains one of the sources of
competitiveness (cf. the work of Robert Reich on the topic), the pressure on adding value
is on the high end of the labour productivity spectrum, where higher education institutions
operate and where universities are the central factor in the development of a better
knowledge economy.

Universities as urban and regional knowledge centres

Universities are recognized as a focal production point of knowledge and knowledge
workers and therefore play an important part in todayʼs knowledge economy (Conceição &
Heitor, 1999; Florida et al., 2006). Their efforts in education and research promote and
generate new knowledge and new workers that are highly skilled in using that knowledge
in the countryʼs economy, by either strengthening existing firms or generating new
opportunities by starting up businesses that use knowledge and knowledge workers as a
leverage for competitiveness.
Since a few decades, the influence of universities in their regions has been studied by
researchers and practitioners. In particular, universities have often been seen as having
the task of stimulating economic growth in less successful regions (Benneworth et al.,
2005). For example, Benneworth et al. (2007) focus on old industrial regions and the
contributions of universities to regional innovation, a theme also present in Varga (1998).
Until the last decade, however, the focus on the relation between universities and their
regions has been on economic growth, with little interest on the impact of universities in
the local and regional labour markets. The emergence of cities and regions as a new
frame of analysis for all economic aspects has provided more opportunities to analyse
labour issues in this new context and opened up the type of research that studies the
impact of university-produced knowledge workers in the urban and regional labour market.
In the last decade, in fact, authors have started to focus on the regional/urban perspective
of the knowledge economy, driven by the increasing importance of the region as the basic
unit of analysis (Cappellin, 2007). The authors cited by Harloe & Perry (2004) posit that
“the balance is shifting away from relative autonomy towards a new ʻmode of knowledge
productionʼ (Gibbons et al., 1994; Ruivo, 1994; Nowotny et al., 2001) in which the growing
engagement of universities with their regions and localities is an important aspect.”. The
importance of the city and its urban knowledge-based economy is also highlighted by a
series of non-academic publications (e.g. Jones et al., 2006; Bolz et al., 2005).
In this new frame of spatial analysis, universities, besides fulfilling their supportive role for
the countryʼs knowledge economy, can also be considered as a local source of expertise
for existing organizations in the region (van der Meer, 1997) and as incubators of start-ups
in the urban/regional area, as demonstrated by the efforts of a number of universities
around the world, such as the Delft University of Technology, TU Delft, whose graduates
are a core element in this study. Furthermore their “research, creation of human capital
through teaching, technology development and transfer, and coproduction of a favourable
milieu” (Goldstein et al., 2004) are other of the functions they perform that have potential
impact on the local economy. This kind of impact has been analysed by Florax (1992) and

can be found in examples such as the case of Twente (OECD, 2006), underscoring that
the new frame of spatial analysis constituted by cities and regions is a meaningful one for
the analysis of all sorts of economic impacts in the area, most of them related to achieving
progress on the topic of the knowledge economy.

The impact of TU Delft on Delft and Haaglanden

The city of Delft shares an interest with its major university, TU Delft, on the issues of
knowledge and knowledge workers. In fact, in the last couple of decades, the city of Delft
has been pursuing the idea of exploiting “the economic potential of Delft as a knowledge
city” (van Geenhuizen, 1997, p. 375). Approximately half of all Delft-based jobs are
knowledge-intensive (, 2008) and high-tech start-ups are born throughout the
year, further contributing to these figures. Although TU Delft and the other research/
education organizations in the urban area employ a big percentage of the cityʼs population,
preliminary talks with stakeholders (e.g. former city councillor Loomans, personal
communication, 2008) suggest that a big part of TUDelft alumni decide to leave the city
after graduation and start their own business in another city/region, or simply get employed
by big companies located in the major Dutch cities (Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam),
as a first step in their career development paths.
Considering that TU Delft is the biggest higher education institution in Delft and the biggest
technical university in the Netherlands, if the claim were to be true, the migration of TU
Delft graduates to other areas of the Netherlands or of the world would be first of all a
problem for the city itself, which would lose or fail to increase the base of knowledge
workers that power its economy, constituting an obstacle in the achievement of their goal
to exploit the economic potential of Delft as a knowledge economy. Also, the university
itself would see a reduction of their pool of potential applicants to a job in the university
itself (as researchers, teachers or faculty staff).
However, a more appropriate frame of analysis for the issue can be found in the
boundaries set by the city region of Haaglanden, an area in the western part of the
Netherlands comprising nine municipalities, including the city of Delft. The cooperation
among those nine cities has been determined by the need for a coordinated organization
and planning of a spatial entity that is very cohesive in both labour and housing markets.
In fact, statistics from Stadgewest Haaglanden (2008B) show that “78% of the Haaglanden
working population finds a job within this city region” and that “about 70% of all relocations
take place in the city region and that one sole system is used for the allocation of housing
in Haaglanden”.
In this new frame of analysis, Delft is considered as having a central role in the production
of knowledge. In fact, Stadgewest Haaglanden refers to the city (2008A) as “Technologisch
Innovatief Complex Delft”. Similarly, other places in the city region are tasked with
particular roles: for example, Den Haag is in the eyes of the planners the regionʼs
“international city”, whereas the municipality of Midden-Delfland is indicated by
Stadgewest Haaglanden to be an up and coming residential area for people working in the
region. This attribution of roles and responsibilities results in a structural limitation for the

city of Delft to fulfill its attractive role for TU Delft graduates and to grow as it pleases,
posing the first boundary to the cityʼs current plans.
Combining this attribution of roles and responsibilities from the Haaglanden planners to the
structural limitations of residential locations in the city of Delft itself, makes it very clear that
Delft does not compete at the same level of other Dutch cities, when it comes to having
graduates living there; similarly, Delft does not strive to be specialized in areas where
other cities in the Haaglanden consortium are specializing in instead.
However, even when considering the policy-makersʼ limitations in terms of growth of both
the job market and the housing market, the implications that arise when looking at mobility
of people in and out of the region are still meaningful and it is still compelling to
understand what are the mechanisms that drive people away from or make them stay in
Delft, or in Haaglanden, after graduation and what are the outcomes of their functioning.
As a matter of fact, even considering the structural limitations, the city of Delft and the
region of Haaglanden might still be able to meet their objectives more effectively, by
countering possible negative migration patterns by knowledge workers in the area.

Where do TU Delft graduates go and why?

On the basis of the thoughts collected so far, it is worth considering a preliminary
assumption: regions and cities that can take advantage of their pool of human capital and
their capacity as knowledge workers producers (through local universities or other related
knowledge centres/networks) have an interest in knowing the mobility patterns of
knowledge workers that are or have been studying, living or working in the area; knowing
what decisions university graduates make, with regard to their future employment and
residential locations and knowing the reasons behind those choices will help them in
developing suitable policies to either reverse a negative trend or support and strengthen a
positive one.
And just as in other examples around the world, the municipality (in this case, Gemeente
Delft) and the Stadgewest Haaglanden are not the only institutions involved; other
organizations have an interest in fostering a knowledge-based environment in the area: in
the case of Delft, the organization Kennisalliantie is a regional stakeholder focusing on the
South Holland province, whereas another organization, Delft Kennisstad, focuses on Delft
and close surroundings. And similarly to the concerns of loss of knowledge workers by a
specific urban area, the interest in the issue can be extended to the province or even to
the whole country, in case the relocation issue transforms into a more preoccupying brain
drain phenomenon.
All these elements show that understanding the location decisions of TU Delft graduates is
a priority for the city of Delft, the Stadgewest Haaglanden and for other urban and regional
actors to ensure that those knowledge workers will allow the city to better achieve its
objective of becoming a knowledge city and the region to better play the role of a
knowledge economy that researchers and policy analysts insist so much on being the key
enabler to successful economic development at the beginning of this century.

Knowledge gaps and the role of this study
Due to the importance and relevance of the presented reflections, the current research
deals with the issue of first employment location and residential location decisions of TU
Delft graduates. Several knowledge gaps can be readily identified:
• thereʼs no knowledge about the first employment location and residential location
choices by TU Delft students after graduation; no research has ever studied where
these alumni decide to live and work right after their graduation;
• thereʼs little understanding about the reasons for TU Delft graduates to stay in or
leave Delft/Haaglanden; no systematic investigation on the factors affecting their
choices has been carried out so far;
• thereʼs lack of knowledge about the decision-making process itself that results TU
Delft graduates in moving or staying: whoʼs involved, when does it happen, how
does it happen;

1.2 Research objectives

In light of the previous considerations, the research aims to bridge those knowledge gaps
and achieve the following objectives:
1. to contribute to the knowledge on career and housing mobility of TU Delft
graduates, by providing an overview of their first employment location and
residential location choices
2. to provide stakeholders interested in the topic with scientific data to support their
policy-making, by highlighting the factors that affect TU Delft graduatesʼ first
employment location and residential location decisions and shed some light on
those decision-making processes

1.3 Research questions

In order to contribute to these objectives, the research will try to answer the following
questions and their constituting sub-questions:

Research question #1:

Where do TU Delft students decide to locate after graduation?
a. Where do TU Delft graduates locate for their first employment?
b. Where do TU Delft graduates choose to reside at the time of their first

The answer to this question will contribute to the achievement of the research objective nr.
1, with the goal of clarifying whether there really is or not an issue of TU Delft graduates
moving away from Delft/Haaglanden in favour of other places to work and/or live in, and
whether thereʼs consequently a reasonable concern or not for the loss or lack of
knowledge workers and/or residents in the local knowledge economy and/or living

Research question #2:
What insights can be derived from the decisions of TU Delft graduates on their first
employment location and associated residential location?
a. What are the factors that affect TU Delft graduatesʼ first employment location and
residential location decisions?
b. Do these decisions and factors influencing them differ, within the TU Delft
graduates population?
c. What are the decision-making processes of TU Delft graduates when choosing a
first employment and related housing location?

Answering this question will provide an analysis of the reasons behind TU Delft graduates
moving away from or staying in Delft/Haaglanden, therefore contributing to the
achievement of research objective nr. 2.

1.4 Significance of the study

As already mentioned in the first section of this chapter, the main relevance of the study is
linked to the importance of knowledge workers in the economic development of a city/
region/country, for the overall goal of an improved well-being and higher quality of life of
the area itself. However, additional elements enter the equation when encouraging a
deeper reflection. Retaining graduates in the urban enviroment and involving them in the
local economy not only relates to issues of unemployment and economic growth, but as
Eliasson et al. (2003, p. 827) state, “geographical labour mobility has direct implications for
changes in regional population and consequently, for a wide range of socio-economic
issues.”. What begins as a quest for improved economic development stratgies quickly
becomes a complex system that affects social structures and other connected issues. For
example, changes at the age structure due to the migration (or lack thereof) of young
people might have influences on the type of economy that supports the new structure, with
an impact on lifestyle, social cohesion, type of public services needed and other factors
that might not be immediately visible but might exert their influence over time.
This research also fulfills the role of informative policy analysis, by contributing to the
phase of problem clarification, providing sound data to use in the policy debate. In fact,
according to the classical policy analysis framework, many of the actors involved have
different interpretations of what the problem at hand is really about and itʼs up to the policy
analyst to sort out those views and provide them with a clear overview of data to support
or reject those views.
Finally, the study is also relevant to the academic and scientific community, due to the
introduction and testing of a new conceptual approach that aims to outline the factors
taken into account when deciding about future employment and residential locations.
Previous models have been examining only partial aspects of the issue (e.g. the impact of
income on mobility, the influence of job opportunities on graduate retention, etc.), but none

has ever really provided an overall picture of the major factors and influences together in
the same model.

1.5 Structure of the report

This report is organized as follows.
Chapter 2 presents the methodology of this study, explaining the steps taken in the
process of answering the research questions as well as the reasons for them to be
Chapter 3 introduces the theoretical background of the research issue, by presenting
theories and models that relate to the research questions; the knowledge accumulated
through those theories and models is eventually synthetized into a conceptual approach
that sums up the perspective on the issue and constitutes the basis of a survey that will
test its validity and reliability.
Chapter 4 illustrates the findings of the survey and discusses their interpretation, in light of
the information presented in Chapter 3 and of the relevance of these findings with regard
to the research questions.
Chapter 5 draws conclusions from the previous steps of the research by summarizing the
insights gathered along the process and highlights possible directions for future research
on the topic.
References are included to link this research with other studies on the subject or with
related issues, as well as to allow the reader to get deeper into a certain aspect of the
topics being dealt with throughout this report.
Finally, Appendices provide the reader with information about the study that would not be
suitable for inclusion in the various chapters of the report.

2 Methodology

The following sections will outline the tools and methods that have been adopted in this
study, in order to answer the previously mentioned research questions and achieve the
research objectives. At first, an overview of the whole process will be presented (Section
2.1) and subsequently the elements behind the four steps that brought to the conclusions
of this study will be outlined: a review of relevant literature (Section 2.2), the design of a
conceptual approach on the issue and of relevant test hypotheses (Section 2.3), the
development of a survey based on a questionnaire that tests such approach and
hypotheses (Section 2.4) and the analysis of the surveyʼs results in order to draw
meaningful answers to the research questions (Section 2.5).

2.1 Overview
The following phases were carried out in the study:
• determining a methodology to answer the research questions
• surveying literature and deriving theoretical insights
• designing a survey to test the validity of those insights
• intepreting the surveyʼs results in order to answer the research questions
However, before beginning with the first phase, as with any other scientific inquiry, the first
step of the study has been trying to understand whether the questions being posed had
already been answered or not. The first part of the research therefore focused on finding
relevant sources, where details on first employment location and residential location
decisions of TU Delft graduates were either explicitly mentioned, or could have been easily
derived. Throughout the duration of the project, no such material has been found. The
actors mainly involved in the issue (e.g. Alumnivereniging TU Delft, the universityʼs
campus-wide official alumni organization) donʼt have any precise info on location choices
of TU Delft graduates. Other actors (e.g. Gemeente Delft, Kennisalliantie and Delft
Kennistad) were simply not available to answer requests for information.
The next step, therefore, was to understand how to construct the research process. As a
useful reference for a standard methodology in the investigation of social issues, such as
the location decisions analyzed in this study, Lawrence Neuman (2002) summarized it
quite well when writing the steps to a successful research in social sciences: “First, a
theoretical problem is formulated. Next, an appropriate site and method are selected.
Then, data are collected and analyzed. Finally, the theoretical proposition with which the
research was launched is either challenged or supported.”
Literature on the issue was not lacking. It is mainly from there that a new conceptual
approach was derived, that could accurately represent the location decisions of TU Delft
graduates and the factors that influence them and illustrate them. From this approach,
hypotheses were made on some of the relations within the model between independent
and dependent variables and on some of the possible outcomes of the independent

variables. However, once again, there was no data available to validate them, which made
it a necessity to gather relevant data through primary sources.
In the early stages of the research, it was evident that since the location decision rested
within the TU Delft graduates themselves and due to the fact that no other info was
available from other parties (e.g. media, literature, documents), a data-gathering method
that involved those graduates as the target population was the only reasonable option.
Due to the time limits of the project, as well as its need to produce results relevant for the
whole TU Delft graduate population, observation was rapidly discarded as a data-
gathering option: results would have represented a very limited subset of the possible
behaviors/processes that the population as a whole would usually adopt in a location
decision after graduation; furthermore, observation would not have answered the
questions of what graduates perceive as the factors of their location decisions. Also, for
similar issues of representativeness of the whole population, interviews with TU Delft
alumni were also discarded as an option to obtain an answer to the proposed research
questions, being too restricted and qualitative in character. A survey, in the form of an
online questionnaire, was finally chosen as the preferred research method in order to
answer the research questions. In fact, opting for “breadth and generalisation, rather than
for depth and specificity” (Verschuren et al., 1999) entails the use of a survey as a data
gathering method and implies the use of “quantitative processing and analysis of the data”.
Also, all similar studies encountered so far used questionnaires (amongst others: Hansen,
et al., 2003 and Tarant, 2001) in order to know about graduatesʼ choices as well as their
opinions on certain topics related to their decisions.
Finally, the results of the survey provided the answers to the research questions and the
confirmation or rejection of the conceptual approach and associated hypotheses
developed earlier in the research, thus completing the research process.
The next sections will guide the reader into the specifics of those methodological choices
and provide a framework for understanding the following chapters.

2.2 Literature review

The theoretical background of this research, which provided a basis for the conceptual
approach and associated hypotheses tested through the survey, has been generated
through the help of scientific academic literature, as well as occasional publications of non-
scientific and/or non-academic character on the subject as well as insights from the author
and members of his thesis committee.
Throughout the process of defining the core issue under analysis in this research project,
as well as the key terms involved in it, a series of keywords have been generated, that
have been used in most of the projectʼs activities to find papers, articles, books, podcasts,
videos, websites and more in general any publication, almost exclusively in English, that
would provide input to the construction of a conceptual approach to the issue.
These keywords have been mainly used to search through databases and search engines,
such as the following: Google, Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Webspirs. A
sample of the keywords used can be found in Appendix A. These searches have resulted

in the collection of around 150-170 publications that have been analysed in the first phase
of the research, in order to add depth to the research context (Chapter 1) and to the
theoretical background (Chapter 3). References have been screened by both the author
and his thesis committee and come mostly from highly reliable journals and other
Additional information has been gathered from other stakeholders in the proces (e.g.
Kennisalliantie, Delft Kennisstadt, Gemeente Delft). Data sources in this case include
publications from the relevant organizations. Examples of this are the general statistics
that were obtained from the Dutch national statistics office (CBS), with some useful
information on Delft and its demographic data, and the Kennisalliantie promotional
pamphlet, with an overview on their main organizational interests and objectives.

2.3 Conceptual approach

The literature review allowed to clarify the processes and elements involved in the first
employment location and residential location decision of graduates, according to existing
theoretical and empirical theories and models. Due to the lack of similar frameworks for
the specific case under analysis, the goal would have been creating a new conceptual
approach, that would allow the understanding of past and current decisions of TU Delft
graduates, as well as possibly predict future ones. In order to do so, however, all those
processes and elements from different theoretical and empirical frameworks needed to be
interpreted and filtered for inclusion in this new approach.
The design of a conceptual approach involved integrating the contributions of the various
references collected in a coherent system of connections, where one could clearly see
what are the factors that influence a decision, how do these factors (if they do) have an
influence on each other, what are the outcomes of this decision and what else is involved
in the decision-making process.
Finally, some assumptions were generated and subsequently tested with the help of the
survey in the next stage of the study. The approach and related assumptions,
simplifications and associated hypotheses are discussed more in detail in Chapter 3.

2.4 Survey design

The next step in answering the research questions was the design and implementation of
a survey, aimed at TU Delft graduates. Due to the time limits, the survey was chosen to be
published online. Mail and/or phone inquiries would have been too time-intensive and the
online solution seemed the most appropriate considering the target audience (former
students of technical subjects), a web-savvy group compared to the general population.

2.4.1 Survey sample

Fortunately, the Alumnivereniging TU Delft (TU Delft Alumni Association) maintains a
register of alumni of the university, with basic info and contact information of TU Delft
graduates who chose to register their data in it after graduation. Registration is voluntary

and offered as opt-in choice at the time of graduation. This results in the register
containing information about a smaller group than the actual target group of TU Delft
alumni the survey would be targeted for. For example, graduates from master programmes
in the year 2006 (data for the year 2007 is not available yet) have been 1680 (TU Delft,
2006), whereas only 661 of them chose to register in the alumni register (Stefanie Kirwald,
Marketing Manager Alumni, personal communication) and some of them donʼt provide an
email address or donʼt keep their contact info up to date along the years.
The reasons for this situation are unknown and havenʼt been researched thoroughly yet,
but they constitute nevertheless a bias towards the final results of the survey: in fact, the
group of TU Delft graduates who chose to enter their information in the alumni register
might have particular characteristics that would have an influence in their location decision.
For example, people willing to stay in the Netherlands for their careers might more likely
apply to the register in order to find meaningful local connections and networking
opportunities that they would receive by virtue of being in the alumni register (e.g.
newsletters, invitation to events); non-Dutch students, instead, might not apply to the
register because they already decided to go back to their home countries anyway and they
donʼt see the added value of being in the register in the first place. Nevertheless, due to
the availability of the alumni register as the one and only pool of respondents for the
survey, understanding the reasons behind the bias is out of the scope of the current
research and a possible future research might consider complementing data from the
alumni register with other data about graduates who chose not to apply for it, and
subsequently check whether the aggregated results differ significantly from the results
presented in this research.
Other biases were present in the selection of the sample: for example, a reasonable
expectation is that respondents from 2002 suffer memory and history bias, also referred to
as “cognitive dissonance” (Oswald et al., 2002); people might not remember their choices
or the reasons behind them, as well as interpret them differently due to the fact that a lot of
time passed since then and they might consider their ideas or opinions differently from
what they thought at the time. Anther bias was constituted by a misunderstanding with the
TU Delft Alumni Association, following which many of the TU Delft graduates who
relocated abroad after their studies were not included in the surveyed sample.
Finally, a bias was expected considering the fact that several members of the target
population might not respond to the survey, for various reasons: wrong contact
information, lack of interest in the issue, lack of motivation to contribute to the study, lack
of time. The conclusions of the study will try to reflect these and the other biases coming
from the choice of sample population as well as the particular approach and associated
simplifications that have been put to the test.
Once a target population had been selected, a choice had to be made on which subgroup
of the target group would be involved in the research. A few requirements were necessary
for the subgroup to reflect characteristics of the general population: (1) personal and
educational characteristics of graduates from that subgroup should reflect the variety of
personal and educational characteristics present in any given year at TU Delft; (2)

graduates of the subgroup should be ideally closer in time to the present, in order for the
results to constitute a good predictor of future location decisions. Therefore, two
subgroups were selected: all graduates of TU Delft in 2007 and all graduates of TU Delft in
2002. Selecting all kind of graduates (i.e. male, female; Dutch or non-Dutch; etc.) coming
from all possible educational backgrounds (i.e. all educational programmes) was a
necessary condition for having results significantly representative of the general
population. The choice of selecting the cohort of 2007 followed from the requirement of
having a recent sample, whereas the choice of adding the cohort of 2002 was made with a
possible comparison with the two groups in mind, as already experimented in previous
research (Hansen et al., 2003). Finally, only Master of Science graduates for the year 2007
were selected: graduates in 2002 had 5 years of education as their only educational
option, due to the difference in structure of educational systems from 2002 to 2007, and
the necessity to have comparable samples made it obvious to discard the group of
graduates of Bachelors of Science in the year 2007, since they wouldnʼt have any 2002-
equivalent to be compared to.

2.4.2 Questionnaire design

Having in mind the target group, a questionnaire was designed, with the purpose of
obtaining information on location decisions of TU Delft graduates by graduates
themselves. The questionnaire was prepared with input from relevant literature and
common knowledge. Most importantly, the questionnaire served as a validation effort for
the conceptual approach and related hypotheses built beforehands: testing the processes
and elements behind location decisions in the approach with the real decisions and related
reasons from the survey would have allowed to either confirm the validity of the
hypotheses as good descriptors and predictors of location decisions, or it would have
resulted in the fine tuning them in order to accomodate the survey results.
English was chosen as the questionnaireʼs only language, since it could have been
perceived as more authoritative than a Dutch questionnaire and also because a translation
would have been time-consuming for the author, who is not a native speaker.
The questionnaire was developed from the conceptual approach produced in the previous
stage of the research and designed considering practical design guidelines as found in
literature (Churchill, 1991). The questions were divided among six different sections, each
one pertaining to a certain element of the main issue. Each question stemmed from a
different element of the conceptual approach, which once simplified, was subsequently
operationalized by providing a way to measure the factors in the model reliably.
The first section was aimed to gather info about personal characteristics, as well as living
locations before and during a graduateʼs studies in Delft. Personal characteristics would be
correlated against the decision outcome indicator, to see if some of them would constitute
an influent factor in the decision, whereas locations before and during a graduateʼs studies
would help me seeing a pattern of mobility of graduates, when compared to their final
locations for working and living during their first employment period.

The second section was aimed at understanding the perception of the importance of
certain factors in graduatesʼ decisions in where to locate next, as well as how satisfied
they were with the same factors when considering the city of Delft. These questions were
modeled as Likert scales, as standard methodologies on the subject of evaluating
perceptions suggest (Churchill, 1991).
The third section was aimed at understanding the decision-making process of TU Delft
graduates. It was mostly designed as a set of open questions, in order to give the
respondents the flexibility of a nuanced answer, that would be used to complement the
quantitative data gathered in the other sections.
Sections four and five were aimed at knowing where did the graduates locate for a job and
for living after graduation. Also, additional information about their job and housing (e.g.
sector of occupation, type of housing) were gathered, in order to try and link those
characteristics with the outcomes of the graduatesʼ decisions.
Finally, section six concluded the survey and invited the respondent for comments,
entering their email address and asking whether theyʼd be willing to receive more news
about the study.
Choosing the appropriate scales and measures for each one of the questions in the
questionnaire was done by mostly relying on existing questionnaires used in similar
research (amongst others: Hansen, et al., 2003 and Tarant, 2001) and by verifying
reliability and validity of the questions. Regarding reliability, two important indicators are
often mentioned: test-retest reliability (also referred to as ʻtemporal stabilityʼ) and internal
consistency. Temporal stability is, as already mentioned, an issue when it comes to
graduates of the 2002 sample, but it shouldnʼt be a problem for the cohort of 2007. Internal
consistency has been checked by using Cronbachʼs coefficient alpha on the questionsʼ
scales and making sure that the values of the coefficient are close to 1. Validity, instead,
refers to the the accuracy of the measurements; it has been tested mainly through face
validity (test survey sample and thesis committee) and by carefully wording the
questionnaire as suggested by relevant literature (e.g. Churchill, 1991).
Once completed, a test survey based on the questionnaire that had been developed ran
for 5 days, targeted to fellow class mates in the Engineering & Policy Analysis master
programme. The test survey provided the possibility to express comments on each one of
the surveyʼs sections, as well as a general comment on the survey. Through the feedback
of my class mates and the thesis committee, an improved and final version of the
questionnaire was published online on the authorʼs website, using the open-source
software LimeSurvey.
The link to the survey was sent by the TU Delft Alumni Association to the selected sample
of alumni who had a valid email address, together with a short message that explained the
character of the questionnaire and would invite people to fill it in in the next 2 weeks.
However, due to the initial lack of responses, the period in which the survey was active
finally resulted in 18 days (28th April - 16th May). Participation was encouraged by providing
a lottery prize of 3 gift vouchers of 25€ each on, randomly assigned among those
who would complete the survey.

2.5 Survey analysis
The phases of survey analysis were:
• importing the data into SPSS
• cleaning the data
• obtaining descriptive statistics of the data
• performing statistical analysis on the data
The survey results were imported in the program SPSS, which was used to have an
overview of the survey results and to perform the various statistical analyses. First of all,
only the complete answers to the survey were considered for further elaboration: in fact
incomplete answers didnʼt allow to draw any significant conclusion because of their
incompleteness. Most of them stopped at the very first questions about gender and
country of birth.
Then, the data entered into the program was cleaned from inconsistencies. The responses
to a certain question were given the same format (e.g. somebody entered the full date
when the questionnaire asked for the year only, so the year was extracted from the full
date). Also, some inconsistencies were most certainly typos or simple mistakes in
selecting the correct options. For example, somebody indicating the full address of work
and housing in the Netherlands are expected to indicate ʻNetherlandsʼ as country of first
employment, but a respondent instead selected ʻNepalʼ (the country right under
ʻNetherlandsʼ in the list of countries).
The next step was getting descriptive statistics from the available data. The objective with
regards to that was to provide a picture of the sample, as well as their overall preferences
in terms of choices, as well as behaviours in deciding a place to live and work in. Maps
were generated, where each respondent would be a dot on the map and the maps would
show where they had lived before coming to Delft, during their studies and where did they
work and live after them. The maps were drawn through the help of a list of Dutch post
codes found on the Internet, as well as the mapping capabilities of Google Maps.
Finally, multivariate analysis provided an even richer picture, by highlighting which
particular subgroups of the sample showed particular features (e.g. movers or stayers) or
displayed certain perceptions. This was accomplished by understanding which factors
were more likely to have an influence in the final variable (movers or stayers) through a
series of bivariate analyses; subsequently, these factors were grouped together in a
multivariate analysis that yielded the correlations explaining which of them is a stronger
The methods used for multivariate analysis were logistical and linear regression, due to
the, respectively, categorical and numerical nature of the dependent variable. All
conditions for using those methods were checked before proceeding.
Throughout the process, the term ʻmoversʼ and ʻstayersʼ were adopted, which described
people staying in or moving away from Delft for first employment or residential reasons.
Additional indicators were produced, in order to show not only whether respondents were
movers or stayers with regards to Delft proper (postcodes from 2600 to 2629), but with

regards to surrounding towns (e.g. Den Hoorn, Pijnacker) (mention Haaglanden here) and
with regards to the South Holland province. These three indicators relate to the interest of
not only the city of Delft, but of other local and regional actors, as described in Chapter 1.
The results of the statistical analysis were complemented by the comments left by the
respondents at the end of the survey, as well as the answers to the open questions in the
section regarding their decision-making process, thus completing the analysis of the data
and providing an answer to the research questions of this study.

3 Theoretical background

This chapter relies on previous studies on and around the subject of this report. It will first
outline the existing theories and models found in literature, along with their possible
contribution to the current research (Section 3.1) and it will then present and describe a
new conceptual approach developed by the author, based on the integration and
interpretation of those theories and models (Section 3.2). Finally, the new approach will
allow the formulation of several hypotheses (Section 3.3) that will be tested through the

3.1 Existing theories and models

The analysis of whether individuals or groups of people move, temporarily or permanently
for living or working purposes, how they do it, why and when, has been covered under
several research themes. The ones more relevant to this studyʼs main research issue can
be identified as: on one hand studies on employment and/or residential location or
relocation, mobility and migration, which have the focus on the individual or group as
active subjects of the process; on the other hand, studies dealing with graduate retention
or talent retention and attraction often have other subjects in mind, often shifting the focus
from what drives mobility, how it happens and what are its consequences, to what can be
done to counter certain mobility patterns or create new ones. Whereas the first group of
research themes presents an explanatory approach, by describing motivations, results of
mobility/migration and decision-making processes, the second group has a more
normative approach, with their analysis usually taking one step further and focusing on
policy measures or at the very least insights that can help produce relevant policy
measures by the stakeholders interested in the mobility patterns of the population under
The following sections will shortly illustrate what useful insights can be derived from the
study of the aforementioned research themes, in order to contribute to the current

3.1.1 Employment and residential location and relocation

One of the first areas in scientific academic literature that presents significant overlaps with
the topic of the current research is the one of residential and employment location and
relocation, also referred to with synonims for the two terms (e.g. housing, living, ... ; work,
career, job, ...).
It is interesting to note that the expression “location decision" is mostly used in firm-related
literature (e.g. Bartik, 1985; Head et al., 1995; Devereux et al., 2003), describing for
example factory, business or retail location decisions by companies or other organizations.
Studies on this subject highlight how firms need an environment that provides the
necessary resources for the organization to be productive as well as the complementary

connections that increase its competitiveness by exposing it to new markets, new sources
of knowledge and innovation and in general better networking opportunities. A similar
observation can be made of individuals, whose location decisions, as will be made clear by
the referenced literature, can also be considered in terms of resources (e.g. a high quality
living environment, job opportunities) and connectiveness (e.g. a vibrant social life, links
with friends and family).
When considering an individualʼs location decision, tt the very basic level, the all-
encompassing factor is considered to be utility; the graduate, as in general any person
facing that decision “will choose a residential location by weighing the attributes of each
available alternative - accessibility of workplace, shopping and schools; quality of [...] and
so forth; and picking the alternative that maximizes utility” (McFadden, 1977). However,
theories involving a rational choice are far from popular in most recent literature: first of all,
the information the choice is based on is considered often to be imperfect (van Ommeren,
1997) and the moving/switching costs involved in the process are often excluded from the
balance, too. Finally, when it comes to motivations, thereʼs a “difference between content
(person, physical environment, social environment, other external or societal.) and level of
need (basic needs, anticipated basic needs, higher-order needs)” (Oswald et al., 2002):
not only tangible and visible characteristics of the two or more locations presented as
alternatives are to be considered, but also the relation of those locations with the needs,
attitudes and behaviors of the person. Higher-order needs (Oswald et al., 2002) like need
for independence (in the case of graduates, perhaps independence from parents) and the
need to change are factors that enter the equation when deciding on a future residential
and job location. Anticipated needs also play a role, especially in the case of graduates,
where a change in needs might occur following the future expected condition of being able
to earn a salary (and being therefore entitled to a greater financial independence and
purchasing power). Models that highlight these needs usually descend from the
“Complementary-Congruence Model (Carp & Carp, 1984)” (as noted by Oswald et al.,
On another level, the factors most commonly listed are:
- life cycle circumstances (Oswald et al., 2002; Clark et al., 1999)
- safety place (Oswald et al., 2002)
- pull from other cities or push from the current one [as in (Oswald et al., 2002)]
- lifestyle approach (Scheiner et al., 2003)
- journey to work (Kain, 1962)
- mutual influence of firm and household location decisions (do jobs follow people or the
other way around?) (Deitz, 1998)

The timeline of such a decision varies, in some cases years (Oswald et al., 2002) but
probably in the case of the graduate the choice is made in the final part of oneʼs studies
(i.e. final year). Also, age is important (Oswald et al., 2002) but in our case itʼs a very
homogeneous variable and same goes for level of education.

When it comes to the investigation of first employment location and residential location
choices, similar research (e.g. Hansen et al., 2003; Harren, 1979) stresses the line of
inquiry related to patterns of individual decision-making by the worker. In the case of a
graduate student seeking first employment, the motivations are very varied, as they relate,
for instance, with unemployment reasons (Böheim et al., 1999) or expected income
(Kennan et al., 2003) or others.

Despite the similarities, however, the theme of location and relocation usually presents
characteristics that differ from the features of the current research:
- it is not dealing with first employment location only, but with employment locations at any
point in life (or at least, more than one point in life)
- it is not always dealing with employment location and residential location at the same
time; usually the focus is on one of the two only;
- it is dealing mostly with relocation, therefore examining mostly the cases in which the
decision of individuals or group of individuals resulted in a change from the current/
previous location for work and housing; factors and decisions that drive people to stay
are rarely explicitly mentioned and are often portrayed as simply the negation of the
aspects that drove people to relocate;

3.1.2 Mobility
The second main area of interest that intersects with the topic of this research is mobility.
Contrarily to location and relocation decisions and outcomes, which describe both
behaviors and final states of individuals, mobility is often a characteristic associated to a
system or a population (e.g. mobility of a certain social class, mobility of workers, etc.). It
explains both the degree of change in residential and/or work locations, as well as the
general tendency to travel or commute. It is in many cases associated with the concept of
migration, which will be explained in the following section.
For example, the research of mobility introduces an important factor: young educated
individuals are one of the most mobile sections of the population (Nijkamp et al., 1992).

3.1.3 Migration
The keyword migration is also very significant in previous research on the topic. In fact, it
highlights, with a term that is probably more susceptible to political debate, the fact that
common relocation decisions of a big enough group of people results in a migration flow
from an area to another either in the same country (internal migration) or among different
countries (international migration).
The phenomenon of international migration is often associated with the buzzword brain
drain, which often stands for the migration of skilled workers from a less developed region/
country of the world to another. Its relevance is applicable to our case, due to the fact that
the city of Delft would like to retain as much skilled workers (i.e. TU Delft graduates) to
other cities or countries, therefore trying to avoid a brain drain from Delft.

An important focus is interregional labour migration, presented amongst others by Evers et
al. (1984).

3.1.4 Graduate retention

Finally, the issue of graduate retention is what completes the theoretical background of the
topic. Graduate retention is the collective effort of a university, city, region, state or any
other organization/entity that would like to keep college/university graduates in the area
after graduation, in order to reap the resulting social and economic benefits.
Again, studies on graduate retention (Hansen et al., 2003) have complemented the list of
factors we had so far by adding some factors that are specific to a student population (e.g.
youth clubs, social life, etc.). These studies will also serve as a comparison for the final
results of our survey.

3.1.4 Lessons learned

Analysing literature related to the current research has not provided any all-encompassing
model or theory that can be fully applied to the case of TU Delft graduates, for reasons
that have been explained in the previous sections. However, the insights from existing
theories and models are nonetheless beneficial, in order to accomplish the following key
steps in the understanding of the process under analysis:
1. highlighting factors that influence location decisions;
2. understanding the context in which location decisions are made;
3. defining proper indicators for the results of those location decisions;
Such insights have been interpreted through a different approach from the ones reviewed
so far, that will be presented and described in the next section.

3.2 A new conceptual approach

The analysis of the previously mentioned four main areas of interest can be synthesized in
a new conceptual approach. The approach can be seen as composed of three main parts:
factors behind the location decisions, the decision-making process and the decision-
making outcomes and the indicators used to measure them. As Figure 3.1 shows, each
one of the main themes contributes to the development of a specific part of the new
approach: location and relocation decisions studies put a lot of emphasis on the individual
decision and on the factors that influence it, whereas insights on decision-making outcome
indicators are more likely to come from literature that describes groups of people, such as
the one related to mobility or migration. It is fair to state, though, that all of the themes
contribute at least partially to the three newly determined parts of the conceptual

Figure 3.1: Conceptual approach

This new perspective on location decisions is strongly characterised by microbehavioural

frame of reference. In fact, it looks at each individualʼs decisions as the main focus of
analysis, instead of looking at the target population as a whole. The main constraint comes
from looking at the individual as consciously knowledgeable about the location decision
and the factors that influence it: whereas under an economic point of view, that might be a
reasonable assumption under a variety of models, under a sociology point of view instead
the assumption might be wrong in models that consider the individual as a product of its
surroundings. In this particular case, the assumption was relaxed and the constraint
avoided, due to the fact that factors influencing location decisions are only meant as
perceived factors and not as the ones that in actuality have an influence on the decision.
The reason for this choice is that many policies are available that have an effect on a
graduateʼs perception on a living/working environment and therefore knowing those
perceptions is useful and practical for the objectives at hand.
The elements of the three components in this new conceptual approach are outlined in
Figure 3.2 and will be explained in the following sections.

Figure 3.2: Conceptual approach - constituting elements

3.2.1 Factors
Factors here are listed in two main categories: individual characteristics and external
factors. Individual characteristics elements are what drives most of the research on
mobility, migration and relocation. Differences in gender, age, etc., present different
patterns of mobility and of location decisions.
The other group of factors is the one including external factors, related to living
environment and job market. Most of these factors have been derived from previous
studies, while a few ones have been suggested by common knowledge and by the
feedback of the thesis committee.

3.2.2 Decision
The second element in the model is the decision-making process itself. We can identify the
timeline of the decision, its degree of rationality/irrationality, as well as the search for input
and advice on the assessment of the different external factors already presented, both in
the place where the person il living and in the potential pool of places the person could
relocate to. Finally, the trigger of the decision and the process/procedure are relevant to
know how.

3.2.3 Outcome indicators

Finally, the outcome of the decision is not only where the graduate chooses to live and
work, but also what will his/her mobility pattern be through time (previous choices affect
future ones), how do place of work and place to live relate with each other (a golden rule
reference is that no more than 45 minutes are to be spent commuting from one to the
other) and finally what are the characteristics of the first employment and what are the
ones of the related residential choice.
The elements in this new conceptual approach represent the basis on which the
questionnaire and related survey were designed. In following sections the underlying
assumptions and related simplifications will be explained in detail.

3.2.4 Working definitions

When dealing with first employment location and residential location decisions of TU Delft
graduates, there are various concepts that need to be clarified and defined.
First employment is the first job started by the graduate after graduation. Jobs that
graduates started and ended before their graduation, or even jobs that started before
graduation but are not finished yet, are not included in our definition. The location of a
graduateʼs first employment is considered as the working place assigned to the graduate
from the employer.
Due to the fact that first employment location and housing location might differ (in the basic
case, the two addresses are different; in other cases, city or country could differ as well), it
is necessary to define housing and first employment locations separately 1.
Finally, the last term in need for definition is graduate. A graduate in our case is the student
enrolled at TU Delft who completes an educational programme and is therefore awarded a
certain kind of diploma. The types of diploma awarded at TU Delft are Bachelor of Science
(BSc), Master of Science (MSc) and doctorate (PhD). Doctorate degrees are usually
referred to as “post-graduate” and were therefore excluded from our model. On the other
hand, due to the fact that the sample included both graduates from 2002 and 2007 and
that in 2002 there were no BSc diplomas (only a 5 years long diploma existed), our
definition of graduates was restricted to MSc graduates only from those years.

3.2.5 Assumptions
These are some of the assumptions used to generate the components of the conceptual

Relation firms-graduates
Although the mutual influence between firms and graduates in a certain area is an
important research topic as well as an issue tested by several models/theories, the current
research is not a longitudal study on the topic and therefore considers the job market and

1 In the survey, these definitions are not provided to the respondent, as that would probably only cause
confusion; instead, they have been free to interpret the phrase “where were you living, at the time of your
first employment”, in their most common sense of the phrase.

firm situation as an external factor, given as a static input factor to our decision model, with
the feedback from the graduatesʼ population out of the scope of this research.

Income and social class

The variability of income among members of the student population and variability for the
more abstract variable described in literature as “social class” are not taken into account,
as difficult to measure. In any case, students are generally on the low end of the income
spectrum, either not having any income of their own, or having a very low one provided by
part-time jobs during their studies.

Age and level of education

Both factors are very important in a generalized model, but lack variability when studying
university graduates. The fact that almost every student at TU Delft graduates within the
time planned for their educational programme (e.g. 5 years for a bacherlor and a master
programme) is due to the incentive of student loans, which are not awarded in cases of
long delays in completing the studies.

3.2.6 Operationalization
Having tailored the model to the specific characteristics of the population that will be
surveyed, the next step is the operationalization of the modelʼs elements.
Operationalization will indicate the best way to measure each one of the variables in order
to ensure that statistical analyses can be carried out on them and on their interactions.
Tables 3.1 to 3.6 outline the variables that are present in the model, the method that is
used to measure them (both in terms of level of measurement and possible answers to the
question) and the related question that was included in the online questionnaire. For the
full questionnaire, please refer to Appendix B.

Variable Measurement

Gender nominal

Country of birth nominal

Nationality nominal

Residence before studies country: nominal

postcode numbers: nominal
postcode letters: nominal

Residence during studies country: nominal

postcode numbers: nominal
postcode letters: nominal

Household situation nominal

Marital status nominal

Variable Measurement

Year of graduation nominal

Educational programme nominal

Final grade average scale (ratio)

Final thesis grade scale (ratio)

Ambition nominal
Table 3.1: Operationalization of individual characteristics

Variable Measurement

closeness to friends ordinal for both

closeness to family satisfaction:

- not satisfied at all
closeness to partner - moderately dissatisfied
cultural attractions - indifferent
- moderately satisfied
outdoor recreation - very satisfied
- no opinion at the time/not
social events and night life applicable

cost of living importance:

- not important at all
housing opportunities
- a little important
physical setting - important
- very important
commuting experience - fundamental
- no opinion at the time/not
proximity of other places applicable
quality of public services

opportunity to raise a family

safety of the area

Table 3.2: Operationalization of external factors - living environment

Variable Measurement

starting salary ordinal for both

job benefits satisfaction:

- not satisfied at all
job for spouse/partner - moderately dissatisfied
interesting/challenging job - indifferent
- moderately satisfied
opportunity for career - very satisfied
development - no opinion at the time/not
flexible job or working hours
proximity to other important - not important at all
employers - a little important
- important
- very important
- fundamental
- no opinion at the time/not
Table 3.3: Operationalization of external factors - job market

Variable Measurement

trigger of the decision nominal

time order of decision nominal

elements (job, housing)

input in the decision nominal

decision procedure nominal

Table 3.4: Operationalization of decision elements

Variable Measurement

type of job nominal

matching qualification nominal

occupation nominal

sector nominal

place of first employment country: nominal

postcode numbers: nominal
postcode letters: nominal

Variable Measurement

size of employer nominal

Table 3.5: Operationalization of outcome indicators - first employment

Variable Measurement

place of residence country: nominal

postcode numbers: nominal
postcode letters: nominal

type of accomodation nominal

Table 3.6: Operationalization of outcome indicators - residence

3.3 Hypotheses
The operationalization of the conceptual approach allows to test some basic hypotheses
through the results of the survey. These hypotheses have been derived either as already
existing hypotheses in previous theories and models, or have been drawn from common
sense notions that have emerged throughout my research.
A multitude of hypotheses could be generated from relevant literature and common sense,
due to the fact that countless combinations of independent variables (factors and decision-
making process elements) can be linked to countless combinations of dependent factors
(outcomes of decision-making processes); similarly hypotheses can be made on the
values of the variables themselves and on the relation among independent variables as
well as among dependent ones. However, this study will test only a handful (Table 3.7),
due to the pressing time-constraints and in order to keep the focus of the research sharp,
focused on answering the research questions.

# Hypothesis Rationale Relation with research


1 TU Delft graduates are This hypothesis comes Relates with research

more likely to relocate from the very reason for question #1 (a) and (b)
after their studies to this study to begin.
another city than to stay Knowing whether this
in Delft, for either first hypothesis is true or not
employment or housing will set the basis to
evaluate how strong is
graduate retention in Delft
and how attractive is the
city and its job market to
TU Delftʼs graduates.

# Hypothesis Rationale Relation with research

2 TU Delft graduates are Similar as above. Relates with research

more likely to relocate question #1 (a) and (b)
after their studies to
another city region than to
stay in Haaglanden, for
either first employment or

3 Lack of housing Personal communications Relates with research

opportunities is a major with stakeholders (e.g. question #2 (a)
reason for graduates former city councillor
leaving Delft. Loomans) suggest that.

4 Graduates with higher The literature concerning Relates with research

grades (both grade migration (brain drain) and question #2 (b)
average and thesis grade) mobility posits that highly
tend to relocate more skilled people are more
than graduates with lower mobile than lower skilled
grades. ones. This hypothesis will
test the claim.

5 First employment location As literature suggests, Relates with research

and residential location those decisions are question #2 (c)
choices are made factored in the same
simultaneously. process.
Table 3.7: Hypotheses of the study

4 Results of the empirical study
The chapter deals with the results of the survey and their interpretation in light of the
conceptual approach and associated hypotheses outlined in the previous chapter. It will
first provide an overview (Section 4.1) of the survey results, including descriptive statistics
on the individual characteristics of the survey respondents; then, it will present and
analyze the first employment location and residential location choices of the respondents
(Section 4.2), the factors behind their decisions (Section 4.3), the resulting profiles of
movers and stayers (Section 4.4) and finally illustrate the decision-making processes
described by the respondents (Section 4.5).

4.1 Overview
The invitation to participate in the survey was sent out to a total of 1109 TU Delft
graduates. The TU Delft Alumni office that sent the invitation counted 128 bounces to their
email, indicating that those addresses were not reachable, for various reasons (e.g. “email
address not known”, “undefined reason”, “mailbox full”, etc.). Out of the remaining ones,
as illustrated in Figure 4.1, the survey delivered a total number of 186 responses: 44 of
them were partial answers (most of them stopped at the first couple of questions) and 142
were full answers to the questionnaire. This does not mean that those 142 respondents
filled in all of the questions, but that they went through the 6 steps of the online
questionnaire and finally submitted their answers.

didnʼt respond
partial answers 12%
full answers 13%
email bounces 4%

Figure 4.1: Respondents of the survey - response status

Over two thirds of the respondents are male (Figure 4.2), reflecting the general trend of the
TU Delft student population. Most of the graduates are either Dutch-born or Dutch citizens
(Figures 4.3-4.4): around 13% of the survey sample is foreign-born, whereas the number
is around 10% for the TU Delft student population.

Male 1%
didnʼt specify 28%


Figure 4.2: Respondents of the survey - gender

Netherlands 118
EU 8
rest of the world 16

Figure 4.3: Respondents of the survey - country of birth

Netherlands 129
EU 5
rest of the world 8

Figure 4.4: Respondents of the survey - nationality

At the time of their graduation, most of the respondents lived with other students or young
professionals, as customary for TU Delft students (Figure 4.5).

single person household 25

living with partner and/or children 22
living with parents 11
living with other students/young professionals 79
other 3
missing 2

Figure 4.5: Respondents of the survey - household situation

The majority of the respondents, at the time of their graduation, were either single or,
although having a partner, didnʼt live together with him/her (Figure 4.6).

single 56
with partner, not living together 55
with partner, living together 23
married 8

Figure 4.6: Respondents of the survey - marital status

The year of graduation was included in the questionnaire, in order to accomodate for
possible comparisons between the two target groups: graduates of 2002 and graduates of
2007. The results on this variable reflect the expectation of graduates indeed belonging to
those groups, although some outliers exist (Figure 4.7).

2001 2
2002 53
2003 2
2006 2
2007 79
2008 4

Figure 4.7: Respondents of the survey - year of graduation

Finally, grade averages and thesis grade of the respondents shown in Table 4.1, present a
great variance (especially in the case of the thesis).

Table 4.1: Respondents of the survey - final grade average and thesis grade statistics

4.2 Movers and stayers
The respondents of the survey provided data about the place they lived in before coming
to study at TU Delft, during their studies there, as well as where they had their first
employment and related residence after their graduation.
The first element of interest is that, before their studies at TU Delft, respondents lived all
over the Netherlands (Figure 4.8), in all provinces, although most of them came from the
areas where statistics show that thereʼs a higher population (e.g. South Holland, North

Figure 4.8: Places of origin of the surveyʼs respondents

After graduation, the location decisions of the respondents brought them mostly in South
Holland and neighbouring regions, both for housing (Figure 4.9) and work (Figure 4.10).
The most popular destinations were Delft, Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam.
Itʼs interesting to notice the differences between the places graduates decide to live in and
places they decide to work in: whereas Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam and in general

southern destinations are more popular to live in, Amsterdam, Utrecht and in general
northern destinations are favoured as places to work in.

Figure 4.9: Places of residence after graduation from TU Delft

Figure 4.10: Places of first employment after graduation from TU Delft

The distributions by relevant region of analysis can be found in Tables 4.2 and 4.3.

Delft Elsewhere Total

39 (30.5%) 89 (69.5%) 128 (100%)

Haaglanden Elsewhere Total

59 (46.1%) 69 (53.9%) 128 (100%)

South-Holland Elsewhere Total

86 (67.2%) 42 (32.8%) 128 (100%)

Randstad Elsewhere Total

108 (84.4%) 20 (15.6%) 128 (100%)

Table 4.2: Residential locations of TU Delft graduates

Delft Elsewhere Total

21 (16.9%) 103 (83.1%) 124 (100%)

Haaglanden Elsewhere Total

36 (29.0%) 88 (71.0%) 124 (100%)

South-Holland Elsewhere Total

66 (53.2%) 58 (46.8%) 124 (100%)

Randstad Elsewhere Total

101 (81.5%) 23 (18.5%) 124 (100%)

Table 4.3: First employment locations of TU Delft graduates

Also, short-stay housing or rental are the most preferred types of accomodation in the
places graduate choose to live in (Figure 4.11). Some of them own property (perhaps
referring to family property), whereas some others still stay in student accomodations
(perhaps the ones that chose to stay in Delft and either study or work at the university).

short-stay housing/rental 78
own property 31
student accomodation 22
missing 11

Figure 4.11: Respondents of the survey - type of accomodation

For the purpose of testing hypotheses and, in general dependences and correlations, first
of all, a series of dummy variables were created: livedInDelft_before, livedInDelft_during,
livedInDelft_after and workedInDelft_after, respectively indicating whether the respondent
had been living in Delft before his/her studies, during his/her studies, after his/her studies
or working there after his/her studies. Those dummy variables have been assigned the
value 1 if the respondent indicated Delft (postcodes 2600-2629) in the relevant answer to
the questionnaire and 0 otherwise. Due to the nominal nature of those variables, it would
be possible to execute the relevant tests (e.g. Chi-square) and determine any correlation/
dependence among them.
The first hypothesis could then be translated into more formal statistical terms.

Hypothesis #1 TU Delft graduates are more likely to relocate after their studies to
another city than to stay in Delft, for either employment or

Statistical considering only the cases where the value of livedInDelft_during

equivalent was “yes”, most of them had “no” as the value of both
livedInDelft_after and workedInDelft_after

This hypothesis was easily confirmed, both for residential and first employment locations,
as shown in Tables 4.4-4.5.

Table 4.4: Results of dependence test between livedInDelft_during and livedInDelft_after

Table 4.5: Results of dependence test between livedInDelft_during and workedInDelft_after

To support the picture of TU Delft graduates moving away from Delft, to live and work in
other places, are the other descriptive statistics about the types of jobs they get and the
types of accomodations they settle in. What emerges from Figures 4.12-4.15 is that most
of the graduates find a job matching their technical/business/managerial background
acquired at TU Delft, in private companies, most of them with more than 500 employees,
securing temporary contracts as employees. This profile matches the initial impressions
outlined in Chapter 1, where the assumption was made that TU Delft graduates look for
challenging jobs in big corporations in the main cities of the Netherlands (Rotterdam, The
Hague, Amsterdam) in order to boost their opportunities of career development.

employee, temporary contract 81

employee, permanent contract 49
self-employed, owner/manager 5
self-employed, freelance 3
employee, other type of contract 2
still unemployed 1
missing 1

Figure 4.12: Respondents of the survey - first employment type

yes 120
no 18
missing 4

Figure 4.13: Respondents of the survey - first employment matches qualification

private 98
public 32
nonprofit 8
missing 4

Figure 4.14: Respondents of the survey - first employment sector

< 50 employees 31
50 - 500 employees 28
> 500 employees 81
missing 2

Figure 4.15: Respondents of the survey - first employer size

Similary to hypothesis #1, the second hypothesis can be quickly checked.

Hypothesis #2 TU Delft graduates are more likely to relocate after their studies to
another city region than to stay in Haaglanden, for either first
employment or housing

Results, in Table 4.6, show that most graduates (53.9% in the case of residence, 71.0% in
the case of employment) choose to live/work in Haaglanden after having studied in Delft.
This confirms the incapacity of the city region to retain its pool of graduates, at least
considering the ones from TU Delft.

Table 4.6: Results about Haaglanden

4.3 Factors behind graduatesʼ decision
The second important aspect of the survey results is the indication on what are the factors
that graduates perceive as important in their decision on where to locate next. In an
attempt to compile a ranking among them, based on the respondentsʼ stated ratings, a
count was made of the times the importance of a factor was perceived as very important or
fundamental: this count can be found in Figure 4.16, as a percentage of the total number
of valid responses on that factor.

very important or fundamental (%, approx.)

interesting/challenging job 82
opportunity for career development 73
closeness to partner 50
housing opportunities 44
closeness to friends 44
commuting experience to work/study 42
flexible job or working hours 30
social events and night life 29
cost of living 28
safety of the area 25
starting salary 24
proximity to other places of interest 22
outdoor recreation 22
closeness to family 22
quality of public services 21
job benefits 20
cultural attractions 17
proximity to other important employers 15
physical setting 13
job for spouse/partner 12
opportunity to raise a family 11
Figure 4.16: Ranking of factors by importance

The ranking shows two factors that clearly stand above all others: the search for an
interesting and challenging job and the opportunity for career development. Both are
related to work issues and both score very high among all respondents. These results
connect quite clearly with the choices in first employment outlined in the previous section:
TU Delft graduates move to places where they can find a challenging job that opens the
doors for a steady career development and, apparently, they canʼt find that in Delft, so they

move to main economic centres of the Netherlands (Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam)
The second batch rates moderately high among respondents. First of all, graduates donʼt
want to miss the connections with the ones they most probably got to know during their
studies in Delft (friends, partner); this element is probably the emotional balance needed to
contrast the strong commitment to enter a challenging career. Then, housing and
commuting experience constitute the practical element in the equation: respondents still
want to be living with reasonable standards and not spend too much time traveling from
their house to work and back.
The third group of factors, from flexible job or working hours to the opportunity to raise a
family, score quite low among respondents. The interesting note, however, is that the
element of finding a job for a spouse/partner is the second-lowest important factor in the
ranking, whereas being together with the spouse/partner is among the highest. This
certainly shows that even for the dearest ones, the degree of independence in living the
life one wants is pretty high among the target population.

When it comes to factors ranking, the second hypothesis of this study comes into play:

Hypothesis #3 Lack of housing opportunities is a major reason for graduates

leaving Delft.

Clearly, the top factors are job-related ones and not ones relating to the living environment,
but housing opportunities are still a fundamental factor (44% of the respondents consider it
very important or more) and, as the data displayed in Figure 4.17 shows, only 38.5% of the
respondents are satisfied with it in Delft.
When we compare the importance of these factors with the degree of satisfaction in them
when it comes to the time the graduates lived in Delft, other interesting results emerge.
First of all, as shown in Figure 4.17, when it comes to the living environment Delft rates
quite high on many fronts. Although in a couple of occasions (commuting experience and
closeness to friends) the satisfaction strikes factors that are also important in a graduate
location decision, in other cases, where more than 50% of the graduates have declared to
be moderately satisfied or very satisfied, that satisfaction strikes factors that are not very
important in a location decision. For example, although Delft rates high (more than 70%)
on public services, proximity of other places of interest and safety of the area, those
factors are considered very important or fundamental by less than 25% of the
respondents. On the other hand, Delft rates quite poorly (around or under 50% of the
respondents declare to be satisfied) when it comes to important factors such as housing
opportunities and closeness to partner.

very important or fundamental (%) moderately satisfied or very satisfied (%)

closeness to partner

housing opportunities

closeness to friends

commuting experience to work/study

social events and night life

cost of living

safety of the area (e.g. in terms of crime)

proximity of other places of interest

outdoor recreation

closeness to family

quality of public services

cultural attractions

physical setting (i.e. geography, climate)

opportunity to raise a family







Figure 4.17: Comparison between importance of living environment factors and the satisfaction of
those factors in Delft

Considering work-related factors instead (Figure 4.18), Delft scores moderately good
(slightly above 50%) on the two most important factors in a location decision: challenging
job and opportunity for career development. Other factors, instead, are considered
satisfactory only by less than half of the respondents.

very important or fundamental (%) moderately satisfied or very satisfied (%)

interesting/challenging job

opportunity for career development

flexible job or working hours

starting salary

job benefits

proximity to other important employers

job for spouse/partner







Figure 4.18: Comparison between importance of job market factors and satisfaction of those
factors in Delft and surroundings

The analysis so far has shown us that Delft fails to fully satisfy graduates from TU Delft,
resulting in most of the students to move away from the city for work or living opportunities.
When it comes to housing, opportunities are limited and when it comes to work, more
challenging jobs and more career development opportunities are perceived to be found
elsewhere (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam).

4.4 Profiles of movers and stayers

Now that the reasons behind moving away from or staying in Delft are clear, it is
compelling to understand if movers and stayers adhere to a certain profile, with common
characteristics. What characteristics are indicative of movers/stayers?
In order to answer this question, a series of dependences tests were made between
individual characteristics variables and variables describing living and working locations of
graduates. In this case, the results show (Tables 4.7 and 4.8) that whereas thereʼs low
dependence between having lived or not in Delft before the studies and living in Delft or
not afterwards, thereʼs significant correlation when it comes to working in Delft after the
studies. As the percentages in the crosstab show, this means that people not having lived
in Delft before their studies are more likely not to live in Delft afterwards, as suggested by
the hypothesis.

Table 4.7: Results of dependence test between livedInDelft_before and livedInDelft_after

Table 4.8: Results of dependence test between livedInDelft_before and workedInDelft_after

Hypothesis #4 Graduates with higher grades (both grade average and thesis
grade) tend to relocate more than graduates with lower grades.

Statistical H0: Thereʼs no dependence between the variables final grade

equivalent average and final thesis grade, and the variable livedInDelft_after
H0: Thereʼs no dependence between the variables final grade
average and final thesis grade, and the variable

This hypothesis can be verified through a logistic regression model (Tables 4.9 and 4.10),
due to the fact that both variables final grade average and final thesis grade have a
numerical level of measurement and the dependent variable has a nominal level of

The results show that whereas for living in Delft thereʼs no significant dependence, working
in Delft is very correlated with the two variables, especially with the final thesis grade. This
means that people with higher final thesis grades are more likely to stay in Delft for work.
The result makes sense, by comparing it to the answers of respondents who obtained
higher grades: in most of the cases their career has in fact been a PhD at TU Delft.

Table 4.9: Results of dependence test between final grade average, final thesis grade and

Table 4.10: Results of dependence test between final grade average, final thesis grade and

Finally, the last comparison is between graduates in 2002 and graduates in 2007 (Tables
4.11 and 4.12). No significant correlation can be found, meaning that no particular
differences in moving vs. staying can be seen between the two target populations.

Table 4.11: Results of dependence test between the approximate year of graduation and

Table 4.12: Results of dependence test between the approximate year of graduation and

Although many times indicative, bivariate analysis doesnʼt allow a full understanding of the
influence a certain variable has on one of the previously specified outcome indicators
(dichotomous variables indicating whether the respondent lived/worked or not in Delft/
Haaglanden/Randstad before/during/after their studies at TU Delft); in fact such influence
might be covered by the effect of other variables. This is the reason for a more reliable
model to be developed, that can account for a more precise analysis and prediction of the
location decisions of TU Delft graduates and the factors that influence them.
Two types of models have been developed throughout the study: the first kind has as
outcome indicators dichotomous variables such as the previously mentioned

livedInDelft_after or workedInDelft_after; the second kind has instead numerical
continuous variables as the main outcome indicators. In the second type of models, the
distance between Delft and the places of first employment and residence was calculated
and used as a value in those indicators.
The two types of models allowed for different methods of statistical analysis: in the first
kind, a logistic regression method was used, due to the categorical nature of the
independent variable and the mix of numerical and categorical variables that compose the
model; in the second kind, linear regression was used to develop a model, due to the
numerical nature of the independent variable and after carefully reducing the others to
dichotomous categorical variables in order to ensure proper interpretation of the model.
In both models, the SPSS Enter method has been used, that forced all variables at once in
the same model. Also, in the logistic regression, categorical variables with more than 2
values were reduced to more variables with 2 values automatically by the software.
A first model of the independent variable livedInDelft_after can be seen in Table 4.13. The
variables entered in the model are either the ones that provided a more significant
dependence with livedInDelft_after in previous bivariate analysis, or that are conceptually
linked to the location decision, due to the models and theories presented in Chapter 3.
This accounts for both variables that, as other results have shown, are highly likely to be
influential on the independent variable, as well as variables that were not likely influential
according to the results, but are likely to have their effect covered by other factors and
their inclusion in the model makes sense to the light of previous theoretical work. As an
example, satisfaction with commuting experience and satisfaction with career development
opportunities were included, respectively, in the models about living in Delft and working in
Delft, due to the high importance they scored among the respondents in determining a
place to live or work in; on the other hand, although results show that gender doesnʼt score
high on significance in bivariate analyses, there are reasons coming from literature that
make it a good candidate for inclusion in our models.
The significance of the various elements in the model is quite high, with the most
significant results being above 20%. The study has a significance level of 10% and
therefore no factor can be concluded to have a significant influence on the independent
variable. We can see that marital status and housing opportunities in Delft are the factors
that are most likely influent in the model outcome, perhaps signifying that single graduates
are more likely (positive coefficient) to stay in Delft and graduates who are not satisfied
with housing opportunities in Delft are less likely (negative coefficient) to live there.
However, no statistical significance on these connections can be drawn, at least with the
current sample.

Table 4.13: Logistic regression model for the variable livedInDelft_after

When it comes to a place of work, instead, some factors (Table 4.14) are well below the
significance level of 10%: gender, living in Delft before oneʼs studies, marital status, year of
graduation and final thesis grade. Particularly, this model shows that:
• female graduates are more likely (positive coefficient) to find their first job in Delft;
• graduates who lived in Delft before their studies are more likely to work there
• that single graduates are more likely to stay in Delft for first employment;
• that graduates of the cohort of 2007 have been more likely to relocate than
graduates of the 2002 cohort;
• that graduates with a higher final thesis grade are more likely to stay in Delft; this
might be explained by the fact that theyʼre usually offered a PhD position at the

Table 4.14: Logistic regression model for the variable workedInDelft_after

Showing a connection between the same factors and the distance from Delft that
graduates decide to relocate to, for work or residence reasons, results in being a harder
challenge. In fact, both models (Tables 4.15 and 4.16) have no coefficients with a
significance below 10%. Similarly to the previous case, though, we can show that there are
variables that could have a significance, which could probably be shown with a more
refined model (e.g. with a larger sample): marital status, satisfaction with closeness to
oneʼs partner and satisfaction related to housing opportunities are the factors closer to a
statistical significance than others, in the model of distance of the graduateʼs place of
residence from Delft; in the other model, referring to the distance of oneʼs first employment
location, the gender, marital status and final grade average are instead the ones closer to
significance (but still above 10%). In both models, there is a constant factor that is close or
over 200, which shows a high significance: this accounts for the fact that in average a
graduate moves from Delft many kilometres away.

Table 4.15: Linear regression model for the variable distanceFromDelft_live

Table 4.16: Linear regression model for the variable distanceFromDelft_work

Unfortunately, none of the models provides a high explanatory power of either the final
dichotomous location decision (living in Delft or not; working in Delft or not; etc.): in the
case of the logistic regression, the models are able to predict correctly up to 80% of the
cases (compared with a starting 70% of explanatory power they start with); in the case of
the linear regression, this figure is even worse, since only 30-40% of the variance in the
final results is covered by the factors in the model, most of which do not have a significant
influence on the independent variable.

However, it is evident that models regarding first employment location decisions, especially
in the logistic regression case, provide more hints as to the factors that influence them,
compared to the models regarding residential location decisions. In other words, it appears
to be easier to analyze and predict first employment location choices of graduates, than to
analyze and predict their residential location choices.
The first employment location model shows that the so-called individual characteristics (i.e.
gender, marital status, year of graduation, final thesis grade) are found to influence the
location decision more significantly than the two factors related to how satisfied the
respondents were with the Delft job market: career development opportunities and finding
an interesting/challenging job. Although these two factors were considered the most
influential in a decision on where to locate for a first employment, they donʼt have a proven
influence on the final first employment location decision. This might relate to the fact that,
as described in the push-pull model in Chapter 3, although Delft satisfies graduates in its
career development opportunities and availability of interesting/challenging jobs, other
cities might simply score higher on those indicators and therefore exert the necessary
attraction to drive people away from a job in Delft.
On the other hand, although not proven to have a significant influence on the residential
location decision, the two factors related to the satisfaction of housing opportunities in Delft
and the possibility to be close to oneʼs partner scored better than the significance levels of
all other satisfaction factors and individual characteristics. In this case, though, housing
opportunities had a slightly negative correlation with the final decision, an element which
can be very hard to explain, but that could perhaps be better understood with a greater
sample and therefore a higher number of cases that the analysis draws upon.

4.5 Insights in the decision-making process

Who moves where and what drives them to move or to stay has been already clarified. But
one piece is still missing to the overall picture of location decisions, the decision itself. It is
through the third part of the survey that a rough sketch on graduatesʼ decision-making
processes can be drawn.
First of all, weʼve seen how important job-related factors are in the choice of a first
employment. Results show (Figure 4.19) that it was indeed the decision related to the job
to be sorted out first, and the choice of housing followed. In less than a half of the cases,
in fact, the choice of the housing came before or at the same time of the choice of a first

first job choice, then choice of housing 78
first housing choice, then choice of job 31
housing and job choices at the same time 30
other 2
missing 1

Figure 4.19: Respondents of the survey - decision time order

This result rejects our sixth and final hypothesis:

Hypothesis #5 First employment location and residential location choices are

made simultaneously.

The decision was not only a result of the balance and rationalization of the various factors
presented in the previous sections, but it often relied on the input of other people. As
shown in Figure 4.20, people emotionally closer to the respondent were more often
consulted than other people in the university environment (classmates, faculty staff,
professors). Relying on advice from oneʼs partner and friends can be connected with the
previous finding of being close to oneʼs partner and friends as some of the most important
factors in the location decisions: these might be perhaps interpreted as consultations
aimed at finding a place to work that is close to oneʼs partner and reasonable close to
oneʼs friends. Finally, media and other sources were rarely considered.

family 48
friends 70
partner 71
children 1
classmates 18
professor/faculty 18
media (TV, news, Internet, ...) 5

Figure 4.20: Respondents of the survey - decision input

5 Conclusion
This final chapter will provide the answers to the research questions and evaluate the
achievement of the research objectives (Section 5.1). It will then complement those results
with policy implications relevant to the background of the study (section 5.2) and insights
derived from the statistical analysis that will contribute to the previously presented models
and theories (Section 5.3). Finally, an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of this
study will be given, in order to pave the way to future research on this or similar issues
(Section 5.4).

5.1 Results of the research

The research started with two main objectives: to contribute to the knowledge on career
and housing mobility of TU Delft graduates, by providing an overview of their first
employment location and housing location choices; to provide stakeholders interested in
the topic with scientific data to support their policy-making, by highlighting the factors that
affect TU Delft graduatesʼ first employment location and residential location decisions and
shed some light on these decision-making processes.
The first objective has been achieved and the related research questions answered, by
surveying the first empoyment location and residential location choices in a selection of TU
Delft graduates from the cohorts of 2002 and 2007. The results of the survey show first
that, when it comes to residential location choices, Randstad (84.4% of graduates chose to
locate there) and especially South Holland (67.2%) are the most attractive regions,
whereas less than half (46.1%) of the graduates decides to locate in Haaglanden and
even less (30.5%) to stay in Delft.
First employment location choices show even more preoccupying results for the local
stakeholders, in consideration of their policy objectives, with Randstad (81.5%) and South
Holland (53.2%) still managing to attract a considerable portion of the graduatesʼ
population, but Haaglanden (29%) and Delft (16.9%) falling behind their figures for
residential location choices.
A more careful look suggests that thereʼs a marked preference for cities in the South of the
Randstad (e.g. Delft, Den Haag, Rotterdam) when it comes to choose a place to live,
whereas cities at the North of this region (e.g. Amsterdam, Utrecht) fare better when it
comes to choose a place to work, as shown by Table 5.1.

Living Working

Delft 39 (30.5%) 21 (16.9%)

Den Haag 17 (13.3%) 9 (7.3%)

Rotterdam 14 (10.9%) 13 (10.5%)

Amsterdam 10 (7.8%) 19 (15.3%)

Utrecht 3 (2.3%) 5 (4.0%)

Other cities 45 (35.2%) 57 (46%)

TOTAL 128 (100%) 124 (100%)

Table 5.1: First employment location and residential location choices - major cities

The second objective and related research questions required a more in depth analysis of
the factors that influenced those decisions and the processes that generate them, as well
as whether these factors and processes are the same or whether they differ for specific
subgroups of the TU Delft graduates population. This was achieved through three steps:
• first, surveying the graduates on the perceived importance of those factors in their
decision-making process;
• then, through statistical analysis, understanding whether those factors and other
individual characteristics can indeed have a significant influence in these
• finally, surveying the graduates on what have been their decision-making process
with regards to first employment location and residential loacation;

Regarding the first point, results show that finding an interesting and challenging job, as
well as the availability of career development opportunities were perceived as the most
influent elements in the decision (respectively, 82% and 73% of the respondents
considered them as very important or more); being close to oneʼs partner (50%) and
friends (44%), as well as housing opportunities (44%) and commuting experience (42%)
were also perceived as major elements in a graduatesʼ decision. This contributed to the
explanation of why most graduates left Delft after graduation (69.5% for living reasons,
83.1% for working reasons), since those factors were some of the ones the respondents
were less satisfied with, when it came to the perception of their experience in Delft; for
example, only 38.5% of the respondents were satisfied by the housing opportunities in the
The statistical analysis that followed showed that housing opportunities, commuting
experience, as well as closeness to oneʼs partner and friends were not found to be
significantly influencing a graduatesʼ decision on where to live next, despite being

indicated as somewhat important by respondents themselves, however they showed to be
at least more infuent than other individual characteristics such as previous living location
or final grade average, believed to have an influence in the decision according to previous
studies. The former group of elements, relating to job-market characteristics, was not
found to have a direct influence on the decision of first employment location: statistical
analysis showed that being satisfied with the offer of interesting jobs and career
development opportunities in Delft didnʼt result in more people staying in Delft for work
reasons; this might due to the fact that although Delft can be somewhat satisfying in
certain aspects, other cities exert a bigger attraction and therefore manage to motivate
graduates to relocate for their first employment.
Individual characteristics, however, proved to be more influential in the choice, denoting a
core difference in the profiles of people that choose to live or work somewhere else than in
Delft. Whereas for the residential location decision there was no definite proof that any of
the individual characteristics play a role in the choice, when it comes to first employment
location, gender, marital status, having lived in Delft before the studies, year of graduation
and final thesis grade explained most of the final choices of the respondents, resulting in
the correct estimation or prediction of 70-80% of the existing cases. Changes in such
factors, therefore, can change significantly the outcome of the location decision; for
example, having a very high final thesis grade will often result in an offer of a PhD position
at the university, therefore motivating graduates to stay in the city for work purposes.
Finally, decision processes are mostly taking job choice as the priority, with residential
location choice following accordingly. This lines up with the result of job-related factors
scoring higher on the perceived importance in the graduatesʼ decision. Also, as
demonstrated by the high perceived importance of a partner and friends in a location
decision, oneʼs partner, friends and family are also the major sources of input and advice
when it comes to the graduatesʼ decision-making processes.

5.2 Policy implications

The real impact of these findings can be only understood from the context this study was
developed upon. Although it would be incorrect to talk about a real brain drain from Delft
(the highly talented students often stay in the university or in the neighbouring research
institutions, due to their strong academical performance and research-oriented skillset),
indeed most students leave the city after graduation to work and live somewhere else.
Delft, therefore, still manages to retain a specialized workforce that satisfies the profile of
the employers in the city, although it is not attractive enough for graduates who are looking
for other types of employment. Nevertheless, Delft can not be considered on the same
level of other cities graduates choose to live or work in. For example, the limited spatial
development of the city, which results in a shortage of appropriate housing opportunities,
makes it less likely to be the element of attraction of graduates, than other places in the
Haaglanden/Randstad area. No real leverage, therefore, can be exerted in order to
increase the quantity of newly graduates in the area, although the results show that
something could be done to increase the variety of graduates types that find a job in the

city: in fact, whereas now Delft is very attractive to students with high academic profile, the
city might want to make itself attractive to other kinds of students, that look for different
employment opportunities and that perhaps want different things from the city, too.
However, it will be up to the stakeholders of the city deciding which direction they want the
city to develop towards, which specialization should the cityʼs economic activities point to,
and accordingly Delft will be able to develop the necessary policies.
On a bigger scale, though, it is worth considering the impact that graduatesʼ decisions
have on not only Delft, but on Haaglanden and on the whole Randstad region. In this case,
there are less reasons to be worried about, since most of the graduates relocate in this
area for living or work reasons after their studies. Considering Haaglanden, the biggest
concentrations of TU Delft graduates are in Den Haag and Delft, whereas very few of them
relocate to the other 7 municipalities of the consortium. A more in depth and focused study
might be able to reveal the reasons why graduates decide to move there and see what are
these places lacking in order to boost the economic potential of the project. Considering
Randstad instead, the graduates are pretty much distributed all over the area, with
concentration on the bigger cities, but with coverage of the whole region.
When it comes to the decision-making process, this study provides some insights for
policy-makers who want to contrast the negative trend of relocation, if present and if it is a
matter of concern for the stakeholders. First of all, the choice of a job is first considered in
a location decision. This means that if the city of Delft or the city region of Haaglanden
could provide a challenging environment where the graduate student would find an
interesting occupation with enough opportunity for career development, there would be a
higher chance for him/her to stay. Also, graduates rely a lot on advice from close ones:
family, friends and partner. This means that big marketing campaigns and strong
promotion through media or university communication channels wonʼt be received often as
good as some word of mouth from, for example, friends who can share with the graduate a
success story about working and/or living in one place or another.

5.3 Reflection on theoretical insights

The results of the study contribute to the general understanding of location and relocation
decisions, mobility and migration patterns of young people, in this case students who just
graduated. A few insights confirm existing theories and models, whereas others seem to
be constituting a rejection of their statements.
Graduates, as young people in general, tend to a very mobile population. Studies in fact
posit that young people are highly likely to move for living or job related reasons in the
early years of their education/career. Other studies, instead, compare highly educated with
low educated people and conclude that highly educate people have a higher mobility than
the other group: the variability of level of education in this studyʼs sample (all graduate
students) doesnʼt allow for such comparison, although the interesting result is that students
with higher final grades are less likely to move than students with lower grades; this might
be due to the fact that graduates with high academic performance find in the local
university or in the related businesses and organizations of research/academic profile a

suitable first employment opportunity. An investigation of mobility patterns according to
academic performance within the highly skilled student population would be interesting to
perform in order to better understand the patterns that guide students with higher
performance and students with lower performance, possibly leading to a new and more
refined model that links level of education with mobility.
Always relating to mobility, studies show that having been previously mobile before makes
people more likely to be mobile afterwards (at least when theyʼre young). This statement is
indeed confirmed, since many of the students who moved to Delft for their studies, moved
again afterwards.
When it comes to the push-pull model, no real confirmation or rejection can be done, on
the basis of the survey results, since no data regarding the satisfaction of graduates with
their first employment location and residential location choices was gathered. However, the
model is a very good explanation of the research results and is therefore worth
investigating in further research.

5.4 Strengths and weaknesses of the study

The scope of the study has been limited by a number of factors. First of all, the number of
respondents to the survey has been below a level in which statistical analysis provides
strong results. Due to the missing responses on some of the questions, some statistical
methods needed to rely on samples of less than 100 cases in size. Then, many
assumptions have been made on factors, decisions and outcomes, which have resulted in
a bias of the results towards this specific occurrence. Some of the bias has been dealt with
in Section 2.4.
What future research could do is relax the assumptions of the studies and increase its
boundaries. First of all, more alumni could be surveyed, in order to overcome non-
respondent bias. Then, this study has been about first employment only, but its results are
not a predictor for the effectiveness long-term retention. Therefore, a study of successive
location decisions of TU Delft alumni could be made, in order to establish patterns and
maybe highlight path dependencies.
Also, efforts could be put in understanding the nuances of the external factors involved in
the decision, how to act on them, and how do they rate not only in the case of their
location of departure (in this case, Delft), but also in the case of location of potential and
final destination. This would clarify better the role of push and pull in the process.
When it comes to the applicability of these results to other cases, generalizing the case of
Delft to other universities can be hard. TU Delft is the biggest technical university in the
Netherlands, that attracts talented student from all over the Netherlands and abroad.
These students usually have high ambitions and see their studies in the university as a
good way to jump start a strong career. This is reflected in the priority that they assign to
job-related factors and to the priority they assign in deciding about a job first and about a
residence second.
Secondly, the city of Delft is different from other cities with technical universities.
Concerning the Netherlands, Delft has the feature of being really close to major business

and economic centres, being in between The Hague and Rotterdam and quite close to
other high-tech economic areas in Haaglanden. In comparison, the other two universities
in the Netherlands (TU Twente, TU Eindhoven) are quite isolated from the Randstad and
this is perhaps why they have resorted and currently resort to more localized economic
areas (e.g. Philips developed a business/research area near Eindhoven; TU Twente has a
strong incubator programme that incentives the creation of start-ups in the region). The
nature of Delft as one of the nodes in the knowledge network of Haaglanden/Randstad
results in its specialization on some particular disciplines and economic activities that are
the strength of its knowledge economy (e.g. hydraulics, aerospace engineering, high tech
The feature of Delft as a node very close to other cities in the Haaglanden/Randstad hubs
provides also certain restrictions in its spatial development. In fact, the area available to
the municipality is quite limited and, even if willing, the city would not be able to
accomodate, year after year, all the graduates who want to live and work there. Other
areas in the region have been growing and are being developed, that either focus on
residence or on work opportunities for graduates coming from Delft and neighbouring
universities in Den Haag or Rotterdam. This results in a natural tendency of Delft
graduates to move, since the constraints of the system are such that Delft wonʼt be able to
fit all needs.
Besides all this, due to the fact that the study utilizes an analytical approach on the
individual decisions of the graduate student, despite the cultural differences that could be
accounted for in several successive surveys, it can be assumed that many of the
concerns, factors and attitudes of the surveyed population can be indeed observed in
other student populations from universities around the world, particularly in countries with
similar kind of developed knowledge economies whose universities are driving the
development of a new knowledge-intensive workforce. As many scholars and experts put
it, the new class of creative young knowledge workers has more similarities across country
borders than with other classes in their own country. That suggests that the applicability of
this studyʼs methodology can be easily done, with the modification of a few factors that
account for cultural elements, as well as for specific factors that are relevant to the place
the study is being made.


Journal articles
Bartik T. J. (1985), ʻBusiness Location Decisions in the United States: Estimates of the
Effects of Unionization, Taxes and Other Characteristics of Statesʼ, Journal of
Business & Economic Statistics, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 14-22
Benneworth P., Charles D. (2005), ʻUniversity spin-off policies and economic development
in Less successful regions: Learning from two decades of policy practiceʼ, European
Planning Studies, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 537-557
Benneworth P., Hospers G.-J. (2007), ʻThe new economic geography of old industrial
regions: universities as global - local pipelinesʼ, Environment and Planning C:
Government and Policy, vol. 25, pp. 779-802
Cappellin R. (2007), ʻThe Territorial Dimension of the Knowledge Economy: Collective
Learning, Spatial Changes and Regional and Urban Policiesʼ, American Behavioral
Scientist, vol. 50, no. 7, pp. 897-921
Clark W. A. V., Withers S. D. (1999), ʻChanging jobs and changing houses: mobility
outcomes of employment transitionsʼ, Journal of Regional Science, vol. 39, no. 4,
pp. 653-673
Conceição P., Heitor M. V (1999), ʻOn the role of the university in the knowledge
economyʼ, Science and Public Policy, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 37-51
Deitz R. (1998), ʻA joint model of residential and employment location in urban areasʼ,
Journal of Urban Economics, vol. 44, pp. 197-215
Devereux M. P., Griffith R. (2003), ʻEvaluating Tax Policy for Location Decisionsʼ,
International Tax and Public Finance, vol. 10, pp. 107-126
Eliasson K., Lindgren U., Westerlund O. (2003), ʻGeographical Labour Mobility: Migration
or Commuting?ʼ, Regional Studies, vol. 37, no. 8, pp. 827-837
Evers G.H.M., van der Veen A. (1984), ʻA Simultaneous Non-Linear Model for Labour
Migration and Commutingʼ, Regional Studies, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 217-229
Godin B. (2006), ʻThe Knowledge-Based Economy: Conceptual Framework or
Buzzword?ʼ, Journal on Technology Transfer, vol. 31, pp. 17-30
Goldstein H., Renault C. (2004), ʻContributions of Universities to Regional Economic
Development: A Quasi-Experimental Approachʼ, Regional Studies, vol. 38, n. 7, pp.
Hansen S. B., Ban C., Huggins L. (2003), ʻExplaining the “Brain Drain” from Older
Industrial Cities: The Pittsburgh Regionʼ, Economic Development Quarterly, vol. 17,
no. 2, pp. 132-147
Harloe M., Perry B. (2004), ʻUniversities, Localities and Regional Development: The
Emergence of the ʻMode 2ʼ University?ʼ, International Journal of Urban and
Regional Research, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 212-23
Harren V. A. (1979), ʻA Model of Career Decision Making for College Studentsʼ, Journal of
Vocational Behavior, vol. 14, pp. 119-133

Head K., Ries J., Swenson D. (1995), ʻAgglomeration benefits and location choice:
Evidence from Japanese manufacturing investments in the United Statesʼ, Journal
of International Economics, vol. 38, pp. 223-247
Kain J. F. (1962), ʻThe journey-to-work as a determinant of residential locationʼ, Papers
and proceedings of the Regional Science Association, vol. 9
McFadden D. (1977), ʻModelling the choice of residential locationʼ, Cowles Foundation
Discussion paper no. 477, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale
Oswald F., Schilling O., Wahl H.-W., Gäng K. (2002), ʻTrouble in paradise? Reasons to
relocate and objective environmental changes among well-off older adultsʼ, Journal
of Environmental Psychology, vol. 22, pp. 273-288
Raspe O., van Oort F. (2006), ʻThe Knowledge Economy and Urban Economic Growthʼ,
European Planning Studies, vol. 14, no. 9, pp. 1209-1234
Scheiner J., Kasper B. (2003), ʻLifestyles, choice of housing location and daily mobility: the
lifestyle approach in the context of spatial mobility and planningʼ, International
Social Science Journal, vol. 55, issue 176, pp. 319-332
van der Meer E. (1997), ʻThe University as a local source of expertiseʼ, GeoJournal, vol.
41, no. 4, pp. 359-367
van Geenhuizen M., Nijkamp P., Rijckenberg H. (1997), ʻUniversities and knowledge-
based economic growth: the case of Delft (NL)ʼ, GeoJournal, vol. 41, no. 4, pp.
van Ommeren J., Rietveld P., Nijkamp P. (1997), ʻCommuting: in search of jobs and
residencesʼ, Journal of Urban Economics, vol. 42, pp. 402-421

Other publications
Böheim R., Taylor M. (1999), ʻResidential mobility, housing tenure and the labour market in
Britainʼ, Institute for Social and Economic Research and Institute for Labour
Research, University of Essex
Bolz U., Ford A., Gourley M., Magee C., Castilla Porquet M., Rakel J., Radovanovic D.,
Sieverdink A., Sivertsen T., Sturesson J., Teunisse P., Toussing J. (2005) , ʻCities of
the future - global competition, local leadership*ʼ, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Churchill G. A. Jr. (1991), ʻMarketing research - methodological foundationsʼ, 5th ed., The
Dryden Press International Edition
European Council (2000), ʻPresidency Conclusionsʼ, Lisbon European Council, 23-24
March 2000, available at
Florax R. (1992), ʻThe university: a regional booster? Economic impacts of academic
knowledge infrastructureʼ, Ashgate
Florida R., Gates G., Knudsen B., Stolarick K. (2006), ʻThe University and the Creative
Jones A., Williams L., Lee N., Coats D., Cowling M. (2006), ʻIdeopolis: Knowledge
City-Regionsʼ, The Work Foundation

Kennan J., Walker J. R. (2003), ʻThe effect of expected income on individual migration
decisionsʼ, National Bureau of Economic Research
Lawrence Neuman W. (2002), ʻSocial Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative
Approachesʼ, 5th ed., Allyn & Bacon
Mellander C., Florida R. (2006), ʻThe Creative Class or Human Capital? Explaining
regional development in Swedenʼ, The Martin Prosperity Institute
Nijkamp P., van Wissen L., Rima A. (1992), ʻA Household Life Cycle Model for Residential
Relocation Behaviorʼ, Serie Research Memoranda, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
OECD (2006), ʻSupporting the Contribution of Higher Education Institutions to Regional
Development - Peer review report: Twente in the Netherlandsʼ
Stadgewest Haaglanden (2008A), ʻRegionaal Structuurplan Haaglanden 2020ʼ
Tarant S. A. (2001), ʻPredicting Retention of Recent College Graduates in Science and
Engineering: Implications for States and Organizational Recruiting Practicesʼ, MSc
Thesis, North Carolina State University
TU Delft (2006), ʻTU Delft Highlights 2006ʼ
Varga A. (1998), ʻUniversity research and regional innovation: a spatial econometric
analysis of academic technology transfersʼ, Kluwer Academic Publishers
Verschuren P., Doorewaard H. (1999), ʻDesigning a Research Projectʼ, Lemma
World Bank (1998), World Development Report 1998, ʻKnowledge for Developmentʼ

World Wide Web (2008), ʻDelft Knowledge Cityʼ,
objectid=33776 (retrieved on the 18th February 2008)
OECD (2002), ʻNew Science and Technology Indicators for the Knowledge-based
Economy: Opportunities and Challengesʼ, STI Review, No. 27, http:// d o c u m e n t /
17/0,3343,en_2649_34451_2669841_1_1_1_1,00.html (retrieved on the 21 July
Stadgewest Haaglanden (2008B),
id=15&reload_coolmenus (retrieved on the 24th July 2008)

Appendix A: Keywords

The following keywords have been used to find published materials on the study issue, as
described in Section 2.2:

relocation decision
relocation model
relocation decision model
relocation decision-making
relocation decision-making model
relocation factors
relocation reasons
graduate* relocation
alumni relocation
youth relocation
relocation young
residential relocation
relocation university
relocation college
determinants relocation
motivation relocation
relocation graduation
career relocation
residential mobility
housing mobility
housing job mobility
geographical mobility
mobility university
mobility college
determinants mobility
motivation mobility
mobility graduation
career mobility
migration decision
migration model
migration decision model
migration decision-making
migration decision-making model
migration factors

migration reasons
graduate migration
college migration
university migration
migration graduates
migration alumni
migration youth
migration young
skilled migration
residential migration
housing migration
housing job migration
internal migration
determinants migration
motivation migration
migration graduation
graduation migrants
graduate migrants
knowledge migrant*
graduate retention
graduation retention
workplace location
workplace location decision
workplace location choice
job location
job location decision
job location choice
career location
career location decision
career location choice
employment location
employment location decision
employment location choice
housing location
housing location decision
housing location choice
residential location
residential location decision
residential location choice
job housing location
workplace housing location
career housing location

employment housing location
job residential location
workplace residential location
career residential location
employment residential location
career migration
knowledge workers
graduate retention
knowledge economy
knowledge economy geograph*
knowledge economy region*
location choice
economic geography
migration knowledge
talent attraction
talent retention
graduate attraction
talent retention
graduate retention
alumni retention
student retention
talent involvement
graduate involvement
alumni involvement
student involvement
urban economy
regional economy
local human capital
human capital flows
brain drain
local knowledge
urban knowledge economy
regional knowledge economy
urban knowledge economy innovation
regional knowledge economy innovation
tiebout relocation

Appendix B: Survey transcript
This is a page-by-page transcript of the online survey delivered to TU Delft graduates.
When available, the possible answers are indicated in square brackets after each
question. Comments meant to help the respondent are preceded by the symbol “[?]”.


TU Delft - Delft University of Technology

Should I stay or should I go?

An investigation on the factors affecting first employment location and housing location
decisions of TU Delft graduates


My name is Nicolò Wojewoda and this short survey is part of my graduation project on the
issue of first employment location and housing location decisions of TU Delft alumni after
graduation. Iʼm working on the project through TU Delft and the support of other
stakeholders, under the supervision of prof. Marina van Geenhuizen (Professor of
Innovation and Innovation Policy in the Urban Economy at the Faculty of Technology,
Policy and Management).

My two objectives through this survey are to:

1. measure how many people decide to stay in or leave Delft after graduation, either
for their first job or for housing
2. understand the factors that influence their choice

The questionnaire is divided in five main parts: your individual characteristics, your
perceptions of Delft as a living and working environment, your decision on whether to stay
in or leave Delft after graduation, your first employment after graduation and your first
housing after graduation.

The total completion time is around 15 minutes.

If you'll leave your email address at the end of the survey (optional - you can also decide
not to do so), I'll make sure to contact you personally and let you know the results of my
research. Also, youʼll qualify for a prize (3 gift-vouchers of 25 EUR each),
randomly assigned among the provided email addresses. No link will be established
between your answers and your email address: the survey is completely anonymous.

Thank you for helping me and supporting this project!

Nicolò Wojewoda
MSc in Engineering & Policy Analysis
Faculty of Technology, Policy & Management
Delft University of Technology

[Next >>]


Individual characteristics
This part of the survey will allow the research to understand what characteristics do the
"movers" and "stayers" possess (e.g. are women more likely to move out of Delft than

1. Please indicate your gender [female; male; no answer]

2. Please indicate your country of birth [dropdown list with all countries in the world]
3. Please indicate your nationality [dropdown list with all countries in the world]
[?] If more than one nationality, please indicate the one other than your country of birth.
4. Where did you live most of the time, before becoming a student at TU Delft? [dropdown
list with all countries in the world]
5. If you lived in the Netherlands, please indicate the postal code of your housing at that
numbers (e.g. 2625) _____ letters (e.g. JM) _____
6. Where did you live most of the time, when you were a student at TU Delft? Please enter
the postal code of your housing in that period.
numbers (e.g. 2625) _____ letters (e.g. JM) _____
7. What was your household situation, at the time of your graduation from TU Delft? [single
person household; living with parents; living with partner and/or children; living with
other students/young professionals; other]
[?] By “household” we mean the occupants of the house (in this case, the place you
lived in), considered as a unit.
8. Please indicate your marital status, at the time of your graduation from TU Delft. [single;
with partner, not living together; with partner, living together; married; separated;
9. When did you graduate from TU Delft? _____
[?] Year when your graduation diploma was awarded.
10.What educational programme did you complete at TU Delft [dropdown list with all TU
Delft MSc programmes)
11.What was the final grade average of your courses, in your studies? _____
12.What was your final thesis grade? _____
13.What was your ambition at the time of graduation? _____

[<< Previous] [Next >>]


Perceptions of the surrounding environment

In this section I'll ask you about your own ideas and perceptions on elements of the
surrounding environment, at the time when you were graduating from TU Delft. The
purpose is understanding a bit more about  the factors behind your decision.

1. At the time of your graduation, how satisfied were you by the following elements of
Delft? [from 1 = “not satisfied at all” to 5 = “very satisfied” + 0 = “no opinion at the time/not
a. closeness to friends
b. closeness to family
c. closeness to partner
d. cultural attractions
e. outdoor recreation
f. social events and night life
g. cost of living
h. housing opportunities
i. physical setting (i.e. geography, climate)
j. commuting experience to work/study
k. proximity of other places of interest
l. quality of public services
m.opportunity to raise a family
n. safety of the area (e.g. in terms of crime)

2. At the time of your graduation, how important were the following elements, in your
decision on where to locate next? [from 1 = “not important at all” to 5 = “fundamental” + 0 =
“no opinion at the time/not applicable”]
a. closeness to friends
b. closeness to family
c. closeness to partner
d. cultural attractions
e. outdoor recreation
f. social events and night life
g. cost of living
h. housing opportunities
i. physical setting (i.e. geography, climate)
j. commuting experience to work/study
k. proximity of other places of interest

l. quality of public services
m.opportunity to raise a family
n. safety of the area (e.g. in terms of crime)

3. At the time of your graduation, how satisfied were you by the job market in Delft and
neighbouring areas? [from 1 = “not satisfied at all” to 5 = “very satisfied” + 0 = “no opinion
at the time/not applicable”]
a. starting salary
b. job benefits (e.g. retirement plan, travel assistance, etc.)
c. job for spouse/partner
d. interesting/challenging job
e. opportunity for career development
f. flexible job or working hours
g. proximity to other important employers

[?] Neighbouring areas are municipalities in close proximity of Delft (e.g. Pijnacker,

4. At the time of your graduation, how important were the following factors in choosing
your first employment? [from 1 = “not important at all” to 5 = “fundamental” + 0 = “no
opinion at the time/not applicable”]
a. starting salary
b. job benefits (e.g. retirement plan, travel assistance, etc.)
c. job for spouse/partner
d. interesting/challenging job
e. opportunity for career development
f. flexible job or working hours
g. proximity to other important employers

[<< Previous] [Next >>]


The purpose of this section is to better understand the process of your decision-making
regarding your first employment and related housing.

1. What specific event/occurrence/circumstance, if any, triggered you to stay in or move

out of Delft? _____
2. How did the decisions about a first employment and future place to live in occur? [first
job choice, then choice of housing; first housing choice, then choice of job; housing and
job choices at the same time; other]

3. Who provided major input/guidance in your choice? Please select all that apply. [friends;
family; partner or spouse; children; classmates at TU Delft; professor/faculty staff; media
(TV, newspapers, Internet, ...); other]
4. What process or procedure did you follow in order to decide on your future first
employment and related housing? _____
[?] What was the timeline of the decision? Was it a "rational" or "emotional" one? What
were the steps involved?

[<< Previous] [Next >>]


First employment
In this section I'll ask you about the characteristics of your first job after graduation.

1. What type of job was your first one after graduation? [employee, permanent contract;
employee, temporary contract; employee, other type of contract; self-employed,
freelance; self-employed, owner/manager; Iʼm still unemployed]
2. Did your job match your recenty acquired qualification by TU Delft? [yes; no]
[?] e.g. a computer engineer working for MicroSoft would answer YES, whereas a civil
engineer working at McDonald's would answer NO
3. What was your occupation in your first employment? [list derived from the 2002
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of
Labor Statistics2]
4. In which sector were you employed? [private; public; nonprofit]
5. In what country was your first job located? [dropdown list with all countries in the world]
6. If your first job was in the Netherlands, please indicate the postal code of your work
numbers (e.g. 2625) _____ letters (e.g. JM) _____
7. What was the size of your employer?  [< 50 employees; 50 - 500 employees; > 500

[<< Previous] [Next >>]


In this section I'll ask you about the characteristics of your housing at the time of your first
job after graduation.


1. In what country did you live in, during your first job after graduation? [dropdown list with
all countries in the world]
2. If you lived in the Netherlands, please indicate the postal code of your housing location.
numbers (e.g. 2625) _____ letters (e.g. JM) _____
3. What kind of accomodation were you staying in? [student accomodation; short-stay
housing/rental; own property; other]

[<< Previous] [Next >>]



1. Before submitting your answers, if you would like to be kept informed about the results
of this research, please enter your email address. Your contact info will be used
exclusively for informing you about my graduation project and/or for entering the lottery
assigning 3 gift-vouchers for 25 EUR each; at any time youʼll be free to contact
me ( and ask to be removed from my contact list.
2. Would you be willing to be contacted again, regarding this research? (e.g. receiving the
final report) [yes; no]
3. Would you like your email address to enter the lottery that is going to randomly award 3 gift-vouchers of 25 EUR each? [yes; no]
4. If you want, please report here any comments you would like to make about this study
or the survey.

[<< Previous] [Submit]


Thanks for submitting your answers.

Have a good day/night!