The Great California Exodus? Not So!

Is it a calamity that more Californians are leaving the state than are migrating there from others? USC demographer Dowell Myers takes a closer look at migration data and finds that most native-born Californians remain there.

2 minute read

May 20, 2012, 9:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Myers notes the many media columns, particularly in the Wall Street Journal (see related links) that would have you think that California is on the brink of disaster because its policies are resulting in mass flight.

"The doomsayer critics playing with demographics typically cite three reasons for the state's woes: Business taxes are too high, development regulations are too strict, and planners are dictating lifestyles that people don't want."

Myers asserts that not only are the critics charges misleading; they are dangerous. As an expert demographer, Myers takes a closer looks at migration data.

"What local residents care about is how many of our own friends, especially our children, leave the state. If native Californians start fleeing, then we know we are in trouble. So what do the data tell us on this?"

"When it comes to retaining native sons and daughters, California has the fifth-strongest attraction of all 50 states (behind Texas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Georgia, see chart). Among California-born adults who were at least 25 years of age and old enough to have moved away, fully 66.9 percent were still choosing to reside in the Golden State in 2007, the last year of high migration before the recession held people down....

The main threat in California isn't about business climate or the types of homes being built. It is about the defunding of higher education and the failure to invest in the next generation of workers, taxpayers, and homebuyers."

Thanks to Ed Drury

Sunday, May 13, 2012 in Zocalo Public Square

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