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Will they come back?

Jeanne Sager - Columnist
Posted 4/5/21

There are some questions that remain constant for parents, no matter how old their child, no matter where they live.

Will they be happy? Will they know how much I love them?

And then there's …

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Will they come back?

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There are some questions that remain constant for parents, no matter how old their child, no matter where they live.

Will they be happy? Will they know how much I love them?

And then there's the questions parents in small towns begin to ask as their children age:

Will they come back?

There's the hope that they will, the desire to keep them close, and to watch them blossom. Simply put: We want them to come back.

There's the hope that comes with each generation rolling up their sleeves and digging into the problems at hand with fresh ideas and new energy. Simply put: We need them to come back.

And then there's the hope that they will have opportunities that allow them to blossom and grow.

Simply put: We know they might not be able to come back.

Sure, there's good news to be had: 72 percent of Americans still live in or close to their hometown, according to US Census statistics.

But it largely comes down to where you grew up. Midwesterners tend to stay put. Californians have a tendency to move.

And people in small towns? Well, there's a term in research for what happens here: “rural brain drain.” Higher-achieving students from rural areas tend to go off to college and never return.

Income rates from an AllState and National Journal Heartland Monitor may key us into a part of the why: 33 percent of Americans who live near or in their hometown made less than $30,000 a year in 2015. That number was cut to 24 percent for people who lived away from their hometown.

Living away from your hometown, you have a 59 percent chance of making $50,000 or more a year. Go back home? Your number drops to 48 percent.

The reasons to live here in our beautiful community are too many to list in just one column. The reasons to raise children here would be just as long.

But one question will continue to plague our parents: Will they come back?

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