Upjohn Author ORCID Identifier


Publication Date



Upjohn Institute working paper ; 23-393

**Published Version**

In Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 2023:1–22




This paper introduces a new measure of the labor markets served by colleges and universities across the United States. About 50 percent of recent college graduates are living and working in the metro area nearest the institution they attended, with this figure climbing to 67 percent in-state. The geographic dispersion of alumni is more than twice as great for highly selective 4-year institutions as for 2-year institutions. However, more than one-quarter of 2-year institutions disperse alumni more diversely than the average public 4-year institution. In one application of these data, we find that the average strength of the labor market to which a college sends its graduates predicts college-specific intergenerational economic mobility. In a second application, we quantify the extent of “brain drain” across areas and illustrate the importance of considering migration patterns of college graduates when estimating the social return on public investment in higher education.

Issue Date

December 2023


Upjohn project #69115


National Science Foundation (Collaborative Grant #1919387), Russell Sage Foundation (Grant #1811-09737), and Institute of Education Sciences (Grant R305B150012)

Subject Areas

EDUCATION; Postsecondary education; LABOR MARKET ISSUES; Wages, health insurance and other benefits


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Conzelmann, Johnathan G., Steven W. Hemelt, Brad J. Hershbein, Shawn Martin, Andrew Simon, and Kevin M. Stange. 2023. "Grads on the Go: Measuring College-Specific Labor Markets for Graduates." Upjohn Institute Working Paper 23-393. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. https://doi.org/10.17848/wp23-393