The population of New Orleans fell 7.3 percent after Hurricane Katrina, but guess what. NOLA now has 40,000 more college graduates than before the disaster.
From 2000 to 2013, Detroit lost over 160,000 residents but amazingly added nearly 167,000 college graduates.
It's an urban myth that population loss and brain drain go hand in hand. On the contrary, of the 100 largest American metropolitan areas that lost population in this time period, every one gained in the percentage of college-educated residents. Such findings are contained in a report from the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank that studies urban issues.
In some, cities with major population losses actually saw their college-educated head count rise to exceed the national average. "Buffalo and Cleveland went from less educated than America to more educated than America," Aaron Renn, a senior fellow at the institute, told me.