Working Paper

Measures beyond the college degree share to guide inter-regional comparisons and workforce development

Abstract: Raising the share of adults with college degrees in a region or jurisdiction is a nearly universal goal of regional policymakers. They believe that education, as summarized by this statistic, is the cause of increasing employment, productivity, and wages. Using statistics estimated from the decennial censuses and the American Community Survey, this analysis demonstrates how different measures would suggest different rankings of more successful versus less successful metro areas. The \"place-of-birth\" variable in Census data enables a disaggregation of the origins of the skilled and unskilled adult populations. This provides insight into whether high-skilled regions developed talent among natives or attracted talent nationally or globally. I find that metros in states that are successful at getting their natives through college have experienced lower growth in their native and migrant graduate populations. With a few exceptions, metro areas with high degree shares or large improvements in their degree share have not grown their graduate population at unusually high rates. The numbers suggest that metro areas held up as exemplars of educational attainment have achieved this distinction to a large extent by being unattractive to nongraduates.

Keywords: Regional economics; Education - Economic aspects;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Part of Series: Working Papers (Old Series)

Publication Date: 2012

Number: 1231