Internal Migration Determinants: Recent Evidence

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present study investigates the impact on gross state in-migration over the 1999-2002 period of a variety of economic and non-economic factors. The empirical estimates indicate that gross state in-migration was an increasing function of expected per capita income on the one hand or actual per capita income on the other hand and a decreasing function of the average cost of living. Interstate unemployment rate differentials per se do not appear to have influenced gross migration, however. In addition, gross state in-migration was an increasing function of the availability of state parks, recreation, warmer temperatures, location in the West, and greater sunshine while being a decreasing function of the violent crime rate and the presence of hazardous waste sites. (JEL J61, R23)

Introduction

Numerous studies have empirically addressed the determinants of internal migration (as illustrated in part in the surveys by Greenwood [1975] and Cebula [1979]). A number of these studies emphasize the migration impact not only of economic factors but also of non-economic, i.e., so-called quality-of-life factors [Cebula, 1978, 1979, 1993; Cebula and Belton, 1994; Cebula and Payne, 2005; Clark and Hunter, 1992; Conway and Houtenville, 1998, 2001; Davies et al., 2001; Gale and Heath, 2000; Gallaway and Cebula, 1973; Milligan, 2000; Renas, 1978, 1980, 1983; Saltz, 1998; Vedder, 1976; Vedder and Cooper, 1974]. As demonstrated in Gatons and Cebula [1972] and Gallaway and Cebula [1973], omission of non-economic factors from an empirical migration analysis constitutes an omitted-variable problem that generally compromises the integrity of that analysis.

The present study deals with gross state in-migration rate determinants for the period 1999-2002, a period that to date has not received attention in the empirical migration literature. Thus, the study deals with very current and recent information on U.S. internal migration and its determinants. In addition, this study considers not only the impact of economic factors but also of a variety of quality-of-life factors, some of which have previously received little or no attention in the literature.

A Model of Gross In-Migration

This study parallels the migration-investment models developed in Sjaastad [1962], Gatons and Cebula [1972], Gallaway and Cebula [1973], Riew [1973], and Cebula [1979, Ch. 4]. Specifically, the consumer-voter is treated as regarding the migration decision as an investment decision such that the decision to migrate from area i to area j requires that his/her expected net discounted present value (DPV) of migration from area i to area j, DP[V.sub.ij], be (a) positive and (b) the maximum net discounted present value that can be expected from moving from area i to any other known and plausible alternative area/location.

Following in principle the models in Sjaastad [1962], Gatons and Cebula [1972], Gallaway and Cebula [1973], Riew [1973], and Cebula [1979, Ch. 4], DP[V.sub.ij], consists of at least two major sets of considerations, namely: (1) expected income (I) in the areas; and (2) expected non-economic, i.e., quality-of-life (QOL), characteristics of the areas.

Based on Sjaastad [1962], Gatons and Cebula [1972], Gallaway and Cebula [1973], Riew [1973], and Cebula [1979, Ch. 4], it further follows that migration will flow from area i to area j only if:

DP[V.sub.ij] > 0; DP[V.sub.ij] = MAX for j, j = 1,..., z (1)

where z represents all of the plausible known alternative locations to area i.

Obviously, if DP[V.sub.ij] < 0, the consumer-voter resident of area i will remain in area i, and a flow of migrants from area j to area i may even occur (Gatons and Cebula [1972]). Alternatively stated, the decision to migrate from state i to state j implies that for at least some persons, DP[V.sub.ij] > 0 and that their DPV is maximized in state j. On the other hand, the decision for consumer-voter residents to remain in state j presumably implies that DP[V. …