U.S. internal migration: who moves and why?

by Julie DaVanzo

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With birth rates falling, migration has become increasingly important in determining whether areas grow or decline. People who migrate tend to be the young, the educated, and the skilled. Their arrival improves the stock of human capital in areas to which they move, while their departure diminishes the stock in the areas they leave. Migration is the means whereby people living in places where they are not fully employed or most highly valued can move to areas that offer brighter prospects. For labor markets, migration is an equilibrating force. A small subset of migrants and areas do not appear to benefit from migration. Some base their moves on limited information and restrict potential destinations to those where they have friends and relatives. Financial relocation assistance and information about alternative labor markets might broaden their range of choice and make moves more successful for them and the areas they join.

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