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Understanding the Long-Run Decline in Interstate Migration

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  • Greg Kaplan
  • Sam Schulhofer-Wohl

Abstract

We analyze the secular decline in interstate migration in the United States between 1991 and 2011. Gross flows of people across states are about 10 times larger than net flows, yet have declined by around 50 percent over the past 20 years. We argue that the fall in migration is due to a decline in the geographic speci city of returns to occupations, together with an increase in workers' ability to learn about other locations before moving there, through information technology and inexpensive travel. These explanations find support in micro data on the distribution of earnings and occupations across space and on rates of repeat migration. Other explanations, including compositional changes, regional changes, and the rise in real incomes, do not fit the data. We develop a model to formalize the geographic-specificity and information mechanisms and show that a calibrated version is consistent with cross-sectional and time-series patterns of migration, occupations, and incomes. Our mechanisms can explain at least one-third and possibly all of the decline in gross migration since 1991.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18507.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18507

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  1. Bulent Guler & Fatih Guvenen & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Joint-search theory: new opportunities and new frictions," Staff Report 426, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Marcelo Veracierto & Jonas Fisher & Morris Davis, 2012. "The Role of Housing in Labor Reallocation," 2012 Meeting Papers 805, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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Cited by:
  1. Zheng Song & Kjetil Storesletten & Yikai Wang & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2012. "Sharing high growth across generations:pensions and demographic transition in China," CEPRA working paper 1203, USI Università della Svizzera italiana.
  2. Ganong, Peter & Shoag, Daniel, 2012. "Why Has Regional Convergence in the U.S. Stopped?," Working Paper Series rwp12-028, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Bulent Guler, 2013. "Dual Income Couples and Interstate Migration," 2013 Meeting Papers 898, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Raven Molloy & Christopher L. Smith & Abigail Wozniak, 2013. "Declining Migration wihin the US: The Role of the Labor Market," Working Papers 13-53, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  5. Henry R. Hyatt & James Spletzer, 2013. "The Recent Decline in Employment Dynamics," Working Papers 13-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. Coulter, Rory & van Ham, Maarten & Findlay, Allan M., 2013. "New Directions for Residential Mobility Research: Linking Lives through Time and Space," IZA Discussion Papers 7525, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Siddharth Kothari & Itay Saporta Eksten & Edison Yu, 2013. "Online Appendix to "The (Un)importance of Geographical Mobility in the Great Recession"," Technical Appendices 12-205, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  8. Davis, Morris A. & Fisher, Jonas D. M. & Veracierto, Marcelo, 2013. "Gross Migration, Housing and Urban Population Dynamics," Working Paper Series WP-2013-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Daniel Cooper & Rüdiger Bachmann, 2012. "Cyclical and sectoral transitions in the U.S. housing market," Working Papers 12-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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