Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date


Working Paper Number

WP #09016, July 2009; Old working paper #13094


Out-migration of college-educated youth from rural areas of the United States is a persistent trend and a salient concern for rural development practitioners. Using a unique dataset compiled from a survey of alumni graduating from a major Midwestern Land Grant University between 1982 and 2006, we address four policy relevant questions pertaining to rural brain drain: which college graduates choose to live in rural areas, how do rural alumni's career goals differ from those of urban alumni, how do occupation and income differ across these groups and is interest in rural living increasing or decreasing over time? We find strong evidence of brain drain from rural areas roughly 75 percent of rural born alumni lived in urban areas at the time of survey. Rural alumni tend to be rural born, have majors in the College of Agriculture and work or start business in the agriculture-related industries.

Publication Status

Published in Economic Development Quarterly, Vol. 25 no. 4 (November 2011): 341-352.

JEL Classification

I25, J11, J24, O15, O18, Q1, R11

File Format



28 pages

Included in

Economics Commons