MASSACHUSETTS’ GREATEST natural resource is its stock of 535,000 college and graduate school students. Human capital brings the ideas and entrepreneurship needed for regional success, yet too many of our students leave, including the entrepreneurs who created Facebook. Retaining talent requires us to fight the regulations that make entrepreneurship too rare and housing too expensive, but the state should also aim at winning students’ hearts while they are still in school.
Skills predict urban success. Across metropolitan areas, an extra 5 percentage points of the adult population with college degrees in 1970 has resulted in an 8 percent more population growth and a 4 percent more income growth. Yet the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Alicia Sasser found that 29.5 percent of New England’s college graduates left the region within a year of graduation, the highest out-migration rate in the country. That exodus reflects our schools’ aim of educating the world, but the state not retaining the graduates.