Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Richard Garnett

Second Advisor

Markus Hadler

Third Advisor

Kristi Fondren


Brain drain, also known as “human capital flight,” can be defined as “the mass emigration of technically skilled people from one country to another country” (Weeks, 2008, p. 250) or one state to another state. This theory surmises that highly skilled people or those with high education levels are more likely to migrate from places with little to no economic opportunities to places with better economic and job opportunities. West Virginia has largely been a state with few high paying or prestigious job opportunities. So why do highly educated people stay in West Virginia? Using census data and personal interviews, I will explore why highly skilled people stay in a state that boasts one of the poorest economies. The people who stay are the exception to the rule. I will determine if those who stick around, especially in the more rural parts of the state, do so because of social capital and family reasons, and possibly pride in the state. I will also focus on immobility and local identity, especially that of the Appalachian. I want to determine why the brain drain theory does not apply to them.



Sociology -- Research -- West Virginia.

Sociology, Rural.