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Boston Globe: How the colleges shape Boston’s young adult workforce

The Boston Globe profiled the findings of a recent study co-authored by the UMass Donahue Institute and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, analyzing the rate at which Boston retains its college graduates. While the city has been subject to longstanding criticism for failing to hold onto a large percentage of its graduates, the report argues that a better indicator of the economic vitality of the area can be found in its growing population of educated young adults — regardless of where they went to school.

Despite the exodus of half of its student population each year, Boston may not have an issue with “brain drain” at all because the city remains able to attract and retain plenty of young workers, says the report.

“The more important question is how many younger, skilled workers are choosing to be in Boston and the surrounding areas,” said Dan Hodge, director of Economic and Public Policy Research at the UMass Donahue Institute. “How much does it matter if they were educated at BU or Dartmouth?”

The city’s average retention rate is 50 percent, with graduates of public universities more likely to set down roots nearby.

“When you have global universities, schools like Harvard and MIT, you are recruiting people from all over the world,” said Alvaro Lima, the director of the research division at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, adding that higher education is an export industry. “Then, you throw them back out into the global economy.”

If Boston didn’t export a significant portion of its graduates, the city would see a glut of doctors, engineers, and politicians, not to mention nearly double its size in 10 years, he says.

About 76 percent of graduates who call Boston their hometown stayed in the area following graduation, compared to 42 percent who came from elsewhere, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Read article: How the colleges shape Boston’s young adult workforce

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