Anja Herkner
Institute of Rural Studies

Bundesallee 64
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5501
Fax: +49 531 596 5599

Occupational Choice from a spatial perspective


Apprentice at work (c) monika/
Apprentice at work (© monika/

Occupational Choice from a spatial perspective: A comparative analysis of determinants and consequences

Why do individuals choose a certain occupation? What influences have regional determinants like labour market and industry structure on the decision? These questions are especially important for rural areas with regard to the current German skill-shortage.

Background and Objective

It is the project's purpose to explain how occupational choice, entrepreneurial activities and occupational mobility differ between regions. The project further wants to identify possible determinants of these differences. Based on the results, a conclusion will be derived about the interrelation between occupational choice and regional development.


In the first phase of the project a microeconomic decision model will be developed, which explains occupational choice from a spatial perspective.

The second, empirical part is based on the econometric analysis of secondary statistics.  Therefore aggregate data on the level of qualification, the composition of industries, the fluctuation of employees, apprenticeship, the size of firms and entrepreneurial activities are used. We test our microeconomic decision model with micro data of individual persons from the socio-economic panel (SOEP) and the employment data from the IAB.

Our Research Questions

The project asks, how local conditions affect individuals' occupational choice and what exactly the determinants are. Based on these results we discuss the effect of individual decisions on the structural development specifically within peripheral regions with sparse labour markets and how decisions might possibly be influences by different measures.

Preliminary Results

We expect to contribute to the explanation of different paths of regional development by reference to individuals' occupational decisions, these decisions'  interaction  and their relation to the local economic structure. The resulting dynamics could contribute to the explanation of the observed general disparities between agglomerations and peripheries and allow for a further differentiation and explanation of structural disparities between various peripheral regions.

We also hope to derive hints on possibilities for the effective inducement of occupational decisions into a socially valuable direction. The project could thereby contribute to an answer of the question what measures are suitable for the support of skill development for example in order to tackle the widely expected skill shortage problem in some regions and industries.


Involved Thünen-Partners


10.2016 - 9.2020

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing

Publications to the project

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