Magazine article Economic Trends

Domestic Migration and Its Impact on Ohio

Magazine article Economic Trends

Domestic Migration and Its Impact on Ohio

Article excerpt

12.21.2011

Americans tend to be more mobile than others in the industrialized world. According to a recent study*, the fraction of Americans who moved in 2005--roughly 12 percent--was about twice as high as the fraction that moved in most European countries outside of Northern Europe during the same time. While Americans' annual mobility rates remain high by international standards, they appear to have trended down since at least 1980, though the reasons for this remain unclear.

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What has changed less over this period is where Americans are going. About 2.5 percent of Americans move from one state to another in a given year, and for several decades, these flows have tended to transfer population from the Midwest and Northeast toward the South and West. More recent data, from 2005 to 2009, suggest that this general movement of population is continuing to take place.

What accounts for this ongoing trend? Some explanations emphasize economic factors, such as less onerous land and labor regulations in the South, likely to be favored by businesses. Other explanations emphasize more desirable weather, as well as proximity to natural amenities, like mountains or oceans, likely to be favored by households. Which of these explanations turns out to be closer to the truth has important implications for states that have seen net outmigration on average over the last few decades. The former explanation suggests that different policy choices can reverse the observed trend.

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Ohio, like many Midwestern states, saw a net outmigration over the period from 2005 to 2009, taking in about 35,000 fewer individuals from other states than it transferred to them. It received individuals on net from the District of Columbia and 16 states which were largely concentrated in the northeast and upper Midwest, and it made net transfers to 33 states which were generally in the South and West.

Ohio gained the most net migrants from Michigan (+3,043), New York (+1,821), and Illinois (+1,797); and lost the most net migrants to Florida (-7,954), North Carolina (-6,417), and Texas (-5,635).

Net migration flows from Ohio to other states tended to be consistent with broader, national net migration flows.

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Among these first three states, net inflows from Illinois and Michigan were weighted heavily toward those under 35. For New York, net inflows for individuals under 35 outpaced those of older individuals by about two-to-one. There were meaningful net inflows of individuals with advanced degrees, but these were outpaced by inflows of individuals without a college degree by at least three-to-one.

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Among the states to which Ohio lost migrants on net, there were losses across all age and educational attainment categories. In North Carolina and Texas, these losses were weighted toward younger individuals (those under 34) by at least two-to-one. For Florida, this ratio was almost two-to-one in favor of older individuals. As far as educational attainment, net outflows to Texas and North Carolina were weighted toward those with at least a college degree; however, for Florida, net outflows were weighted modestly toward those without a college degree.

* "Internal Migration in the United States," by Raven Molloy, Christopher L. Smith, and Abigail Wozniak. …

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