Saturday, October 23, 2010

Talent Migration And Educational Attainment

Want to know the #1 cause of brain drain? Outside of an acute economic downturn, the answer isn't lack of jobs. Don't worry about a dearth of urban or recreational amenities. Stop sending your kids to university. Via Free Exchange, nothing says leave your home state like a college diploma:

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.


rootvg said...

Jim, do you think the residents of suburban Atlanta or Dallas-Fort Worth or either of the largest urban areas in California are advocating a less well educated population as a conduit to economic growth and well being?

This is what's wrong with the Rust Belt. It's that stuffy, stodgy, almost reflexive risk averse mentality and tendency to turn inward.

If this is what those people are thinking, they're DONE. It's over.

Jim Russell said...

The problem with those non-Rust Belt metros is that they grew lazy because of all the inmigration of college educated people. Atlanta is starting to look like a house of cards. Dallas-Ft. Worth still looks strong, but they still obsess brain drain. California is a disaster. I'm glad I'm not stuck there.

Some Rust Belt cities, such as Pittsburgh, are national superstars in terms of educational attainment rate growth. So, you have the likes of Austin looking at Pittsburgh as a model to emulate. However, some Rust Belt cities are lost.

Your sweeping generalizations of the Rust Belt are inaccurate.

rootvg said...

I'm still on the distribution list for NTTA, and from what I can see Dallas-Fort Worth is building freeways and light rail so fast that concrete companies can't supply fast enough. Austin is the same.

California has its problems but guess what? It's a nice place to live. We boom and bust every fifteen years or so but the sun still shines and there's no humidity and the food and wine are among the best you'll find anywhere on earth.

Even with all of California's problems, NO ONE here of either political party (or any party) is advocating a less well educated population. That's crazy...but it's also highly symptomatic of many of the cultural and demographic issues the states back home flatly refuse to deal with. Georgia and Tennessee used to be a backwater but no more. Before the forties, Texas was mostly a dump but no more. Why? They poured billions of dollars into primary/secondary education and physical infrastructure. They changed their culture. States in the Rust Belt with the possible exception of Indiana and Wisconsin refuse to do this.

There's nothing wrong with my analysis. Friends who still live there call me once a week to tell the same old war stories I used to tell fifteen years ago. I tell them to leave and they say they can't for whatever reason.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.