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College Education, Good Grades are Factors in Mobility of Self-employed Workers Toward Innovative States

Release Date: 
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - 5:00am
Release Number: 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It’s a story that comes with its own truism: “nothing succeeds like success.” States with higher gross state product growth are more likely to attract highly mobile and high-achieving college graduates, both self-employed and wage-and-salary workers, according to Office of Advocacy research based on the U.S. Department of Education’s 2003 Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) data base.

“With states devoting millions of dollars in investments to economic development and education, state policymakers are naturally concerned when the most talented workers leave to explore opportunities elsewhere.” said Susan Walthall, Acting Chief Counsel for Advocacy. “For states, particularly those experiencing this ‘brain drain’ phenomenon, it’s important to understand how various factors affect the migration patterns of college graduates.”

The paper issued today, Educational Attainment, “Brain Drain,” and Self-employment: Examining the Interstate Mobility of Baccalaureate Graduates, 1993-2003, uses the B&B data to study the employment and location of self-employed and wage-and-salary workers 10 years after graduation. The paper’s author, Advocacy Chief Economist Chad Moutray, finds that the mobility of the self-employed is very similar to that of their wage-and-salary counterparts in this data base. Among the findings are the following:

· A student’s academic achievement level—which comes down to whether they earned mostly As and Bs in their majors—is more likely to indicate higher mobility than the choice of major.

· Students with an expensive, high-caliber education and / or graduate degrees, and those with well-educated spouses are more likely to be mobile.

· States that tend to be more focused on the “knowledge economy” are attracting many of these mobile new workers. States with gross state product growth of 10 percent or more are 13 percent more likely to be the landing place for these high-achieving, mobile college graduates.

· Workers with strong ties to home—including those who are older, married, with children, and homeowners—are less likely to move out of state.

For a copy of the paper, visit the Office of Advocacy website at


The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government. The presidentially appointed Chief Counsel for Advocacy advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policymakers.

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