In crosssectional OLS regressions, we observe that an additional year of higher education is associated with an increase in an individual’s probability of residing outside his birth state at mid-career of three percentage points, or approximately ten percent of the mean of this variable. When we instrument for college with cohort-level induction risk, the causal effect of an additional year of college on geographic mobility is generally larger, but estimates range from 1.9 percentage points to 6.7 percentage points.
The conclusion is a big deal because we already knew that a rise in educational attainment positively correlates with increasing geographic mobility. Now we have proof of a causal relationship. Seeking the talent dividend exacerbates outmigration.
The study also highlights the foolishness of talent retention initiatives. Your hometown needs to be a destination for the college educated. Scholars such as the authors of "Hollowing Out the Middle" are offering bad advice. Politicians running on a platform of stopping brain drain are anti-economic development. Concerning migration push factors, institutions of higher education top the list.