Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Educating Kids to Move Away

Big cities lure away North Dakota youth
I can relate to this story personally because I grew up an hour from the North Dakota border, and many of the same factors applied in Manitoba. Kids don't want to stay because the weather sucks and there's no culture or nightlife. They know they can create the lifestyle they want somewhere else, so they're doing so. Meanwhile, the economy in the state is booming, incomes are rising, the cost of living is low and there are opportunities everywhere. The education system has great graduation and post-secondary rates, which should be a good thing, but it may be part of the problem:
"But the emphasis on higher education — part of a strategy to compete economically — has backfired in a way. The state is producing economic thoroughbreds: educated young people with the farmers' work ethic. North Dakota has plenty of jobs, just not the jobs college-educated young people want. And the state has not been able to attract large numbers of newcomers, foreign or domestic, to compete for the jobs it does have."
So record numbers of young people end up going to college, and most of those leave or don't come back after going out of state for college. I think the one example was telling -- they interview the mother of a young woman who got a university degree, then moved to Oregon, where she's working three low-paying jobs because she loves the lifestyle. Others take professional degrees and realize that they can make twice as much money in the big cities, which more than makes up for the difference in cost-of-living.

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