Examining Brain Drain: Demographic, Educational And Employment Factors Influencing Lehigh University Graduates To Stay Or Leave The Region

Open Access
Bernhard, Mark
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 03, 2007
Committee Members:
  • William J Rothwell, Committee Chair
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Committee Member
  • Wesley Edward Donahue, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Out-Migration
  • Lehigh Valley
  • Lehigh University
  • Brain Drain
  • Stay Or Leave Decisions
Attracting and retaining young, 25-34 year-old individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree has become a major economic development strategy for regions. Research studies have shown that the educational attainment of its population has had an impact on the economic vitality in regions across the United States. Colleges, universities, and economic development practitioners can play a vital role in building economic success by building and enhancing strategies to attract and retain college graduates. This study examined the post-graduation employment experiences of Lehigh University (Pennsylvania) bachelor’s degree graduates. The focus was to determine factors related to their securing employment within or outside of the Lehigh Valley and whether those relationships were similar for graduates in scientific or nonscientific majors. The study was conducted using a questionnaire to gather information on the post bachelor’s degree initial and current employment experiences of Lehigh University graduates from the Classes of 2000 and 2004. The study explored the relationships that demographic, educational and employment factors had on whether the graduates were employed within or outside of the Lehigh Valley when controlling for whether they were bachelor’s degree graduates majoring in a scientific or nonscientific area. Logistic regression and descriptive statistics were the primary research techniques employed. Regression results showed that a person who majored in a science area as well as a person’s scores on the Job Intrinsic Factor (flexible job and opportunities for continuing education at area universities or colleges) and the Family Factor (being close to friends and family) had a statistically significant influence on whether the person was initially employed in the Lehigh Valley region. For current employment, the person’s hometown, whether the person completed additional education beyond the bachelor’s degree, the Regional Factor score had a statistically significant influence on whether the person was currently employed in the Lehigh Valley region.