Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Truth About Brain Drain

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.

Out-migration rates:

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.


John Spalding said...


I went to google and typed in Brain Drain Ohio and the report came up(not first).

I can send it to you if you want. just e-mail me, I think it shows up on my profile.

Good article. I do think though that if we do ever attract jobs in which degrees are required and create a community that takes the "brain drain" theory into consideration we will keep those people here with a thriving culture and arts district. We are a shifting community, and are in need of a concerted effort to bring in industries and ideas that can move us ahead faster than we are currently moving.

Maggie said...

Thanks, John...

The link that google calls up is a PDF of "The Issue" which I already have...

I'm a "paper" kind of person when it comes to some things, so I'm glad that the Board of Regents was willing to send me a hard copy.

John Spalding said...

You don't have a printer? Was there a difference in the two documents?



Maggie said...

Actually, yes..."The Issue" is just the summary of the entire report...the entire report is about 50 pages, not including references. Hence the request for it to be sent...

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Interesting summary and analysis Maggie.

It sounds to me like we should be pushing for more research and development for Ohio rather than focusing on manufacturing jobs.

Of course, many are already on board with that concept, yet our finacial incentives seem to be lagging in this area.

On the bright side the UT/MUO merger IS a giant step in the right direction, regardless of the politcs (and, politicians) involved.

Kate said...

This is a great article.

It's strange though - the few people I shared this with all have said the same comment I had - well you'd never know this by the news!!

liberal_dem said...

Tell me, when the Noes 'fled' to Florida, were they actually part of the so-called Brain Drain?

just curious.

Maggie said...

Actually, Liberal_Dem, I think they're past the age consideration of the study. :)

Unknown said...

Maggie, I know this is late to the discussion but I came across this publication done by UAC and thought you might find it interesting:



Maggie said...

Lisa - great article...says basically the same things as the OBOR, but with more specifics on the Toledo MSA...including the fact that we don't have enough industry to support the advanced degreed and technical graduates we're producing.

There is ample secondary evidence that the lack of robust demand in Ohio and Toledo MSA is a significant factor in the
migration of alumni, especially those with scientific and technical training, and/or post-baccalaureate degrees. Absent a plan or policy to retain such individuals, including support to businesses, individuals, and universities, there is no reason to expect that these trends will reverse.

It should come as no surprise that the University-supported UAC found that better support of universities was needed to help reverse the trend...but again - jobs for the graduates is the primary motivating factor - not cultural amenities, as so many seem to be focused on.

Thanks for the great link!!!!!

Kate said...

This comment was made:
It sounds to me like we should be pushing for more research and development for Ohio rather than focusing on manufacturing jobs

???? what the heck????? I'd rather have a job than see the city hire out another study.

Rethink this one :-) I know you are better than this.

Maggie said...

Kate - help me out because I don't understand your comment. What am I supposed to re-think?

The county is not planning on hiring out any study on brain drain...

I believe that Hooda's comment meant that we should be focusing on expanding upon the research we're doing at our colleges and universities and then moving to commercialize that research. We've also got a significant amount of medical research at MUO...

I don't think he was saying that we should do more studies...

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