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May 2004, Vol. 127, No. 5
Alaska’s ‘brain drain’: myth or reality?
A laska has one of the highest outmigration rates in the Nation. The general belief is that a disproportionately large percentage of Alaska’s young adults leave Alaska after graduating from high school or after completing some postsecondary education in the State. Also, there is wide concern that the percentage of Alaskans who continue their education beyond high school is among the lowest in the Nation.1 This article presents data to quantify these phenomena, sometimes characterized as a "brain drain," using a variety of administrative data.
This article tracks a study group of more than 16,000 Alaskans, age 15–16 in 1994 (hereinafter, 1994 Youth).2 It follows this group through their postsecondary education in Alaska and at out-of-State institutions and examines their employment status in Alaska.
Summary of findings
More than 62 percent of the 1994 Youth were still Alaskan residents in 2002, compared with 71.3 percent of the total Alaskan population.
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1 See Ronald A. Phipps, Access to Higher Education in Alaska –Strategies for Success (The Institute for Higher Education Policy, prepared for the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, December 2000). The paper reports that in 1998, 24.2 percent of 19-year-old Alaskans enrolled in college and that in 1996, Alaska enrolled 38.9 percent of recent high school graduates anywhere as first-time freshmen in a college or university, compared with 58 percent of high school graduates in the Nation.
2 Jeff Hadland, Alaska Brain Drain? Using Alaska UI Wage Records and Administrative Data to Determine the Long Term Education, Employment and Migration Patterns of Alaska’s Youth (Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section, December 2003).
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