America's Overlooked Demographic Superstar: Sunshine

Hopefully you were able to enjoy some summer sun on this Fourth of July. If you're among the many Americans who helped propel population growth in the country's warmer states over the last century, you likely did.

recent review of the causes of city population changes in the United States published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston brings to light an often overlooked factor: warm weather.

"It's easy to overlook weather as a legitimate living factor, if only because the idea of moving somewhere just for the sunshine feels a bit too simplistic," writes Eric Jaffe. "And for sure, the reasons why certain cities grew faster than others in the 20th century are as numerous as they are complex. But when urban scholars have studied population changes during this period, they've routinely found a pleasant climate to be a powerful draw."

"Now it bears repeating that nice weather, while easy to overlook as a factor for city growth, was definitely not the only reason people moved to certain places in recent times," he adds. "A desire for space and suburbia pulled Americans toward some metro areas, and the decline of U.S. manufacturing pushed them away from others. The general skills and education of a population also influenced its residential choices. Above all, the expansion of transportation options facilitated all types of local migrations."

"But even if sunshine isn't the exhaustive reason people settle somewhere, hopefully we all get a reminder this Fourth of July why it's often been a big one."

Full Story: How Sunshine Shapes Cities' Population Growth, in One Chart

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