The Brain Gain of the Newcomers

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The Brain Gain of the Newcomers

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St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Extension Service




The population in rural Minnesota has changed significantly over that past decade. Many of the most interesting changes have occurred in areas that we don’t normally discuss. Commonly referred to as the rural rebound, between 1990 and 1999, over 2.2 million more Americans moved from metropolitan counties to non-metropolitan counties. Looking closer at the demographics of population change, research a the U of M showed an unexpected in-migration of adults aged 30 – 49 into rural areas of Minnesota, even in the most rural counties that do not have amenities or new economic drivers. This in-migration into rural communities is sometimes equal to the “brain drain” brought about by out-migrated youth. Further examination of this 30 – 49 cohort showed that it is composed of adults in their prime earning years. Given this refreshed view of changing demographics, rural America needs to rethink its description of gains and losses. If rural America is losing highschool educated youth (the brain drain) and replacing them with those that at least have a high school education – and in many cases a bachelor’s degree or higher – shouldn’t this be described as a “brain gain”?



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Winchester, Benjamin S. (2009). The Brain Gain of the Newcomers. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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