The Insider: Growing college-grad population lends to top-city ranking

August 2, 2013 9:00 AM

Alicia Duplessis Jasmin


It’s always exciting to have someone else confirm just how great you are. Now the city of New Orleans can bask in the honor of being No. 2 on a list of the top aspirational cities.  

To determine how cities would rank, demographic consultants Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox considered three components — (1) economic indicators such as employment growth, per capita income and unemployment; (2) quality-of-life factors such as traffic congestion, housing affordability and crowding; and (3) demographic factors such as the growth of domestic migration and the movement of college-educated people.

“In a sense, we believe aspirational cities reflect a kind of urban arbitrage, where people look for these places that provide not just economic and cultural opportunity but a cost structure that allows them to enjoy life to the fullest extent,” Kotkin and Cox wrote in their article published July 30 on the Daily Beast.  

In addition to being high on the most-aspirational list, New Orleans also was No. 3 in “brain gain” — the increase of college graduates in its population  — and No. 4 for its increase in positive domestic migration.  

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