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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper
Ambition, Human Capital Acquisition and the Metropolitan Escalator
Ian Gordon
April 2012
Paper No' SERCDP0107:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J24; J61; J62; R23

Tags: escalator region; migration; urban labour market; london; social mobility; human capital

This paper examines the relation between ambition, as a form of dynamic human capital, and the escalator role of high order metropolitan regions, as originally identified by Fielding (1989). It argues that occupational progression in such places particularly depends on concentrations both of people with more of this asset and of jobs offering preferential access to valued elements of tacit knowledge, interacting in thick, competitive labour markets. This is partially confirmed with analyses of BHPS data on long term progression showing that only the more ambitious gain from residence in the extended London region, and that they only progress faster there.