GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (7): 1749-1763.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020180304

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The spatial distribution and flow trends of Chinese top academic talents: Based on the case study of academicians of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Liang ZHOU1,2(), Ya ZHANG1   

  1. 1. Faculty of Geomatics, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, Lanzhou 730070, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2018-07-18 Revised:2019-05-15 Online:2019-07-20 Published:2019-07-12


Academicians, as national high-end research leaders, play an important role in innovative development, talent training, scientific research guidance, national major strategies and core technology breakthroughs. Based on the survey of 755 academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the spatial analysis methods such as nuclear density analysis and mobility index are used in this paper to systematically analyze the characteristics of spatial distribution and three flow patterns of study, employment and changing workplaces of China's top academic talents. The results indicate that: (1) The birthplaces or native places of the academicians are mainly located in the eastern coastal regions with good economic conditions and profound cultural heritages; The academic qualifications of the academicians are mainly obtained in regions such as Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu Province, where top universities (also known as 985 and 211 universities) are located. The first workplaces of the academicians present different manifestations in different periods. The final workplaces are mainly distributed in megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai. (2) The flow of education (birthplace-university) moves from some provinces in the east to the regional center cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai. After graduation, the employment flow shows the characteristics of a large number of destinations which vary with different periods of different academicians, and the degree of spatial aggregation is small. (3) Some 46.23% of the academicians have a tendency of changing their workplaces. The flow of academicians who changed their workplaces one time presented the agglomeration characteristics of “peacocks fly to southeast”, which comes from a long narrative poem with the same name in ancient China, this article uses it to describe the phenomenon that many China's top academic talents moves to the southeast coastal zones, with obvious spatial orientation; the academicians who changed their workplaces two or more times have no apparent spatial aggregation feature except for the last flow by the cause of changing workplace. (4) The analysis of flow index shows that Beijing and Shanghai, as rapidly developed economic zones, are both strong inflow and strong outflow centers with large two-way flow; while Tibet, Hainan, Macao, Inner Mongolia, and Guangxi provincial-level regions have a zero mobility index, and they are subordinate provinces.

Key words: academic talents, innovation-driven, spatial distribution, talent flow, aggregation characteristics