I lot has been said about "brain drain," the loss of young graduates from our area and our state. The most commonly offered solution to this phenomenon is to create entertain districts or artistic districts under the belief that we need cultural and entertainment activities to give younger people things to do.
But these ideas - even the current definition of brain drain - are not rooted in fact.
As part of some research I was doing on another topic, I came across a November 2004 Board of Regents publication called "The Issue." This one was "Is Ohio Experiencing 'Brain Drain'?" And here are the main points and conclusions:
The Governor's Commission on Higher Education and the Economy (CHEE) commissioned a report about the issue to determine the extent of the problem and to discuss how to address it. The actual report is "Brain Drain or Weak Attraction? Migration of Ohio's Young College-Educated Population" December 2003 by Dixie Sommers, Center for Human Resource Research, The Ohio State University, College of Social and Behavioral Science.
Between 1995 and 2000, 10% of the US population 20 and over moved to another state.
Education increases mobility - in the same time period, 28% of the 20-29 year olds with at least a bachelor's degree relocated to another state.
States with larger population centers near state lines often experience higher rates of migration - this is important to Ohio where 29% of the population lives in counties bordering another state.
The 2000 Census showed that Ohio suffered a net loss in the migration of college graduates in and out of the state. "However, one should not jump to conclusions that an exceedingly high number of Ohio's graduates are leaving the state." (emphasis added)
The good news for Ohio is that in the last decade, Ohio's young college graduates were no more likely to leave the state than college graduates generally across the nation.
US - 28.4%
Ohio - 26.8%
Kentucky - 27.1%
Michigan - 27.2%
Pennsylvania - 31.5%
Indiana - 36%
Ohio graduates are not leaving the state in disproportionately high numbers, and are actually slightly less likely to migrate out of the state than are graduates from neighboring states.
The bad news is that too few graduates are coming INTO Ohio from other states and abroad to replace those who leave. The reason for the net loss of college graduates in Ohio is Ohio's failure to attract graduates. In 2000, Ohio ranked 49th in the percent of its population who were in-migrants.
The report did identify the reasons for the low numbers of in-migrants:
* lack of new job growth - from 1995-2000, nonfarm payroll jobs in Ohio increased by 5.6 percent, less than half of the 12.4 percent increase for the US. This rate of growth was actually slower than all but two other states in the country. It is no coincidence that young college graduates who leave Ohio most often move to states with higher rates of job growth where they earn an average of 11.6% more than those who remain in-state.
* Ohio's economy is not producing enough jobs that require a college degree. In 2000, only 19% of Ohio's jobs required a bachelor's degree or higher - lower than the national average of 20.7% and neighboring states such as Michigan (20%) and Pennsylvania (21.6%).
* not enough "arrivers" - students who come into the state for college. On average, 43% of out-of-state students stay in the state where they went to college. Only 23% of "leavers," high school graduates who go out of state to college, return to their home state after graduation. If fewer students are coming into Ohio to attend college, statistics show that fewer will remain here upon graduating.
To reverse the trend of negative net migration of college graduates, Ohio must continue to strive to increase access to its institutions of higher education, and to once again become an net importer of college students. High school graduates who attend college in Ohio are more likely to be "stayers" than those who attend school out of state.
Also, Ohio must increase the percentage of its population in postsecondary education. Ohio lags behind the nation in educational attainment - ranking 41st in the nation for the percent of population with at least a bachelor's degree.
Finally, Ohio must place an emphasis on attracting and creating jobs that require a college education. These types of jobs will provide higher salaries, encourage more Ohioans to stay in the state and will encourage graduates from out of state to locate here.
That is the summary of the report and I've asked for the entire report to be sent to me. But the most glaring point of all this research is that nowhere did anyone identify arts, culture and entertainment as the key to ending brain drain.
Maybe we should actually heed the research instead of catering to fads.