America’s Biggest Brain Magnets

College graduates are no longer heading to the big cities on the coasts, but to smaller, less dense locations.

Money-HouseFor a decade now U.S. city planners have obsessively pursued college graduates, adopting policies to make their cities more like dense hot spots such as New York, to which the “brains” allegedly flock.

But in the past 10 years “hip and cool” places like New York have suffered high levels of domestic outmigration. Some boosters rationalize this by saying the U.S. is undergoing a “bipolar migration”–an argument recently laid out by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. On the one hand the smart “brains” head for cool, coastal cities like New York and Boston, while “families” and “feet”–a term that seems to apply to the less cognitively gifted–trudge to the the nation’s southern tier–a.k.a. the Sun Belt–for cheap prices and warm weather. “College graduates with bachelor’s degrees or higher,” Thompson notes, “have been moving to the coasts, like salmon swimming against the southwesterly current.”

However, this analysis–no matter how widely accepted in the media–is grossly oversimplified, perhaps even misleading. Indeed, college graduates, for the most part, are heading not to the big cities on the coasts, but to smaller, less dense and quite often Sun Belt cities.

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Source: Joel Kotkin | New Geography