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Kansas City, the Brain Magnet

March 3, 2011
Lists that rank cities on various criteria seem to be a trendy way for the media to attract attention. You can find lists for the most livable cities, the safest cities or greenest cities. There are lists telling you the best cities for single people or best cities for bicycle riders. There are so many, in fact, it is sometimes easy to overlook the truly interesting ones — interesting to us economists, that is. Forbes recently produced such a list and Kansas City ranks pretty well on it. On the list of top “brain magnet” cities, the Kansas City metro ranks fifth. The rankings were based on the increase in the number of residents who are at least 25 years old and college educated, compared to the population as a whole, between 2007 and 2009. The Kansas City area added more than 38,000 adults with at least a bachelor’s degree during that time.
Prevailing wisdom says that recent college graduates flock to the trendy coastal cities after graduation, but the data shows this is not really the case. The article says graduates are increasingly looking at affordability and employment growth when deciding where to start their careers. This would help explain why the list is dominated by lower cost metros away from the coasts.
And while we’re talking about lists, Kansas City was also on another recent Forbes top ten list that’s not as impressive. We rank seventh on the list of most miserable sports cities. Baseball season starts later this month. Come on, Royals, let’s try to get off that list!
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