October 2022

IZA DP No. 15679: The Geography of Occupational Choice: Empirical Evidence from the Swiss Apprenticeship Market

This paper presents an empirical exploration of the geography of adolescents' occupational choices, using data covering a single cross-section of the population of all individual-level apprenticeship contracts in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. The unique feature of the data is that they cover both the training firm's location and the apprentice's domicile at a highly disaggregated level. Even though the geographic area covered by these data is small by any absolute standard, the data show that there are large and pervasive differences across different local apprenticeship markets. More specifically, the data show that apprenticeship positions are highly concentrated in a few local apprenticeship markets and that the same regions are also characterized by a larger number of distinct training occupations from which perspective apprentices may choose. Moreover, yet somewhat less obvious, there is also significant variation in the occupational task structure across local apprenticeship markets. These empirical regularities may have implications for various research questions in the context of adolescents' occupational choices.