Studies show that Texas does, in fact, export more students than it imports. In 2006, Texas suffered a net loss of nearly 8,000 college freshmen, according to the nonprofit group Postsecondary Education Opportunity. That's a big change from 20 years ago, when Texas imported several hundred more college students than it exported.
That's one way to spin it. The brain drain pitch depends on your favored boondoggle. In the Texas case, some folks want to do away with current admissions formulas which favor students in the top 10% of their instate high school class. The real threat is that locals are leaving the state to get a college education. Never mind that Texas attracts plenty of the college educated. They're foreigners! (i.e. not from Texas)
Michigan must roll its eyes when reading about Texas out-migration woes. But that's hypocritical. Michigan overvalues its natives just like Texas does. Like Georgia does. Like every state does, regardless of what the data might say.
Previous attempts to investigate brain drain myths are now the subject of ridicule. The target of my own lampoon crusade are the chicken littles crying about the young talent leaving. Like in so many other Rust Belt states, that's not the issue:
That's the opinion of state demographer Ken Darga, the state's leading authority on Michigan's population by the numbers. He said Michigan has retained college graduates better than most states, even as the recession worsened.
But since 2004, far fewer young college grads from other states have moved to Michigan than in previous years, creating a net loss. The number of those leaving Michigan actually has leveled off.
"The brain drain is a very serious concern," Darga said. "The big misunderstanding is that it's a chronic problem. It's not a chronic problem. It's a fairly recent development."
Let me repeat the highlights.
"Michigan has retained college graduates better than most states."
"The number of those leaving Michigan actually has leveled off."
"Far fewer young college grads from other states have moved to Michigan than in previous years."
Texas, go ahead and roll your eyes at Michigan. Michigration is still misinformation. Talent attraction is still the only game in town.