Migrants flee states with highly educated people: why?
I think the best indicators of a state’s overall quality of life are net migration statistics. If a lot of people move into an area, it’s safe to assume that they think that place is overall a good place to live – better than the place they left. Emigration is a sign that, for one or more reasons, people perceive that the place where they have lived is less desirable than their new destination.
There is something very striking about looking at the net migration statistics: the areas of emigration are mainly states with highly educated populations; regions of net immigration have an existing population that is much less likely to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. For example, I took the five states with the highest net migration between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, according to the Bureau of the Census estimates: California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. The proportion of adults with a bachelor’s degree or above in these states ranged from 32.6% to 42.1%, well above the average for the country as a whole. The net emigration from these states was over 560,000 people, or more than one person per minute.
Next, I looked at the five states with the most net immigration during this period: Florida, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, and South Carolina. They had a net influx of over 470,000 people. Yet the proportion of adults with a bachelor’s degree was below 30%, lower than the national average, in everyone of these states.
In addition, the quality higher education was clearly seen to be particularly high in highly educated emigration states. All of the 11 schools (there was a three-way tie at # 9) at the top of the last US News The best list of national universities came from one of the 10 states with the highest amount of emigration. Massachusetts (home of Harvard and MIT) and Illinois (University of Chicago and Northwestern) are great places to go to school, but stay away from there after graduation!
The shift from highly educated to less educated areas has recently been highlighted by the migration of the world’s richest person, Elon Musk, from California to Texas, as well as other prominent figures like Donald Trump fleeing from university-intensive states. like New York. Interestingly, Musk and Trump both attended a prestigious Ivy League (Penn) school in a state with net emigration, both moving to states with lower average levels of education.
As a young scholar, I made a modest national reputation for myself by studying interstate and international migration, and I am keenly aware that there are many factors driving patterns of displacement, including the availability of jobs, taxes, climate, housing prices, pollution and traffic jams, the perceived quality of schools, etc. A full analysis of this question would require a more sophisticated empirical analysis, and since most American academics arguably have a conflict of interest regarding the results, perhaps the studies should largely be carried out by academics from research centers. non-academics or perhaps from other countries. And I readily admit that such an analysis could conclude that the university-migration relationship observed above is largely wrong. For example, states with high out-migration have relatively high taxes, higher than in large in-migration states. It is perhaps more important than the level of education.
That said, however, the simple correlation between migration and earning a university degree is strong enough to warrant further investigation. I think there are plausible explanations for the observed results: while college graduates are more productive (as measured by income) than non-graduates, college attendance is expensive and there are potential ‘negative externalities’ associated with it. at universities. Living in Flyover Country, I feel that many of my neighbors think highly educated people living in coastal states like New York tend to be arrogant with an off-putting sense of superiority.
I looked at the 10 states with the highest level of college success – each of them gave their electoral college votes to Joe Biden. In contrast, nine of the ten states with the lowest level of college education gave their electoral votes to Donald Trump. Although Biden won the election, people by and large are moving to more conservative areas less enamored with progressive politics funded by relatively high taxes.
My latest book is Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America.