The integration of migrants across regions: Education outcomes

Tertiary educated migrants tend to concentrate in large agglomerations, with the largest proportion in capital regions.

The location of the most educated migrants tends to reflect that of their native born peers. Regions tend to have similar shares of highly-educated migrants and natives across the OECD area. Higher shares of highly-educated foreign-born are found in regions with relatively larger shares of native-born with tertiary education (Figure 3.19). This pattern is observed to a much lesser extent for the regions with the lowest shares of highly educated people (Figure 3.20).

3.19. Share of foreign-born with tertiary education vs. share of highly-educated natives
Large regions (TL2), 2014-15 (two-year average)

Note: Correlation = 0.7.


3.20. Regional disparities in the presence of foreign- and native-born with tertiary education
Large regions (TL2), 2014-15 (two-year average)


Among the countries covered, 12 capital regions gather the highest share of both highly-educated foreign-born and native-born in their respective country. In the capital regions of Mexico, Australia, the United States, and Ireland, the share of highly-educated migrants represents more than 50% of the regional foreign-born population. In contrast, in all regions of Slovenia, Italy and Greece, less than 20% of the foreign-born population have tertiary education (Figure 3.20).

Regions attracting the highest share of highly educated migrants are mostly located in Canada, Australia, Northern Europe and Switzerland. In Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland and the Nordic countries, all regions display a minimum level of 25% of foreign-born with a tertiary education degree (Figure 3.21).

3.21. Proportion of 15-64 years old foreign-born with tertiary education
As a % of 15-64 years old foreign-born population, large regions (TL2), 2014-15

Note: Intervals correspond to quintiles.



The terms “foreign-born” and “migrants” are used interchangeably. Migrants are defined by place of birth. The foreign-born or migrant population is defined as the population born in a country different from the one of residence. Unlike citizenship, this criterion does not change over time, it is not subject to country differences in legislation and it is thus adequate for international comparisons.

Tertiary education includes both university qualifications and advanced professional programmes (ISCED 5 and 6).

Some places are particularly attractive for highly educated migrants. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway and Sweden, most regions display larger shares of highly-educated among the foreign-born than among the native-born population (Figure 3.22). In all regions of Australia and most regions of Canada, the share of foreign-born with tertiary education is higher than that of natives by at least 10 percentage points. In Spain, Greece and Italy, the opposite trend is observed where most regions display higher shares of highly-educated native-born than shares of highly-educated migrants.

3.22. Difference in tertiary education between foreign- and native-born
%-points difference of 15-64 years old population shares with tertiary education, TL2, 2014-15

Note: Intervals correspond to quintiles.



OECD (2018), OECD Regional Statistics (database),

See Annex B for data sources and country-related metadata.

Reference years and territorial level

2015; 2014-2015 (two-year average) for European countries and US; TL2.

Further information

Territorial grids and regional typology (Annex A)

Diaz Ramirez, M., et al. (2018), “The integration of migrants in OECD regions: A first assessment”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2018/01, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Figure notes

3.19-3.22: Percent in respective working-age (15-64 years old) population.

3.22: Difference between the shares of foreign- and native-born with tertiary education.

End of the section – Back to iLibrary publication page