I’ve been a little bit skeptical of the Cleveland-based research saying Cleveland’s brain drain problem is basically solved. That’s because mostly because when I see research that wasn’t produced in Cleveland, it tends to say the opposite.
Anyway, a think tank I follow, City Observatory, recently took a look at “brain drain” in a bunch of metros. So I inquired about how Cleveland fared. Joe Cortright of City Observatory passed this on to me. It’s from Jonathan Rothwell of Brookings:
Cleveland retained about 50% of local BA recipients
In 2013, IPEDS reported 10,284 BA or higher degrees awarded in Cleveland, or about 5.0 per 10,000 population.
When we multiply the BA award rate by the retention rate (5.0 * 50%) we get a 2.5 locally retained BAs per 1000 population per year. That ranks 45th of the 51 largest US metros.
Boston and Minneapolis are #1 & #2 (8.3 and 7.5, respectively)
Riverside and Las Vegas are #50 and #51 (2.0 and 2.1 respectively).
The median for large metro areas is about 4.0, which means that each year, Cleveland is locally producing and retaining about 1.5 fewer BA recipients per 1,000 population than the typical metro.
I don’t claim to be an expert on this in any way, but looking at this, it just kinda makes sense. The Cleveland metro isn’t really growing. What that means is some people are leaving (but births outnumber deaths still, and that’s why we don’t see big declines in our regional population.) It makes sense that some of the people leaving would be college grads, and so Cleveland would perform poorly on this. It also makes sense that growing, well educated metros like Boston and Minneapolis would be top performers.
Anyway, this is just one data point. And it flies in the face of some of the conclusions we seem to have arrived at recently locally. It’s not the end all be all, but we shouldn’t pretend like this issue has been resolved or that we are objectively “winning” on this issue. At least, there’s some good reason to believe that’s not the case.