This report from the National Bureau of Economic Research presents 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 four-year institutions vs. two-year institutions.

However, more than one-quarter of two-year schools disperse alumni more diversely than the average public four-year institution. In one application of this data, the report finds 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, the report’s authors 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.

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