A principal aim of colleges is to equip students with knowledge, skills, and connections that will lead to labor market success and future wellbeing. A clear understanding of the labor markets in which a college operates stands to inform institution-level decision-making as well as broader questions about links between college-going and economic development, mobility, and inequality. However, most work in this area focuses on characterizing markets that colleges face for incoming students rather than the markets where students ultimately live and work. Even when the latter is the focus, due to data limitations, the surrounding state or nearest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is often a crude proxy. Given the wide range of institutions that speckle the United States, such simplifications may mismeasure the relevant labor markets for many colleges.
This paper introduces a new measure of the labor markets served by colleges and universities across the United States. About 50 percent of recent college graduates are living and working in the metro area nearest the institution they attended, with this figure climbing to 67 percent in-state. The geographic dispersion of alumni is more than twice as great for highly selective 4-year institutions as for 2-year institutions. However, more than one-quarter of 2-year institutions disperse alumni more diversely than the average public 4-year institution. In one application of these data, we find that the average strength of the labor market to which a college sends its graduates predicts college-specific intergenerational economic mobility. In a second application, we quantify the extent of “brain drain” across areas and illustrate the importance of considering migration patterns of college graduates when estimating the social return on public investment in higher education.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Grads on the Go: Measuring College-Specific Labor Markets for Graduates | IZA – Institute of Labor Economics