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The demise of California reconsidered: interstate migration over the economic cycle


  • Stuart A. Gabriel
  • Joe P. Mattey
  • William L. Wascher


Recent years have witnessed widespread media attention and policy debate regarding the causes and consequences of population flight from California. While some analysts' reports link the reversal in California migration flows to cyclical swings in the state economy, other commentaries focus on alleged deterioration in California amenities and quality of life. This paper employs a logistic migration model to evaluate the role of economic and other location-specific effects in the determination of California domestic migration flows. The model is estimated using data for each of the 50 U.S. states for the 1981-1992 period. Various simulations of the model for the California case are then undertaken to indicate the effect of evolution in economic conditions and other location-specific effects on California net migration. A baseline simulation predicated on a reversion in the state's unemployment rate, wage, and house price differentials to average levels observed in the 1981-1992 period suggests a substantial slowing in California out-migration. Further, deterioration in California location-specific fixed effects, as estimated from the otherwise unexplained portion of the acceleration of out-migration in the more recent 1989-1992 period, serves to dampen the simulated improvement in California net migration only modestly. Overall, our research findings suggest that a large part of the unprecedented and sizable domestic out-migration from California is temporary, to be largely reversed in the context of a rebound in the California economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Stuart A. Gabriel & Joe P. Mattey & William L. Wascher, 1995. "The demise of California reconsidered: interstate migration over the economic cycle," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 30-48.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfer:y:1995:p:30-48:n:2

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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriel, Stuart A. & Mattey, Joe P. & Wascher, William L., 2003. "Compensating differentials and evolution in the quality-of-life among U.S. states," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 619-649, September.
    2. Stuart A. Gabriel & Joe P. Mattey & William L. Wascher, 1999. "House price differentials and dynamics: evidence from the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-22.
    3. Richard E. Kaglic & William A. Testa, 1999. "Slow work force growth: a challenge for the Midwest?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, vol. 23(Q II), pages 31-46.
    4. Modestino, Alicia Sasser & Dennett, Julia, 2013. "Are American homeowners locked into their houses? The impact of housing market conditions on state-to-state migration," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 322-337.
    5. Stuart A. Gabriel & Joe P. Mattey, 1996. "Leaving Los Angeles: migration, economic opportunity and the quality-of-life," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 96-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    6. James Strathman & Thomas Kimpel & Kenneth Dueker & Richard Gerhart & Steve Callas, 2002. "Evaluation of transit operations: data applications of Tri-Met's automated Bus Dispatching System," Transportation, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 321-345, August.
    7. Gebremariam, Gebremeskel H. & Gebremedhin, Tesfa G. & Schaeffer, Peter V. & Phipps, Tim T. & Jackson, Randall W., 2007. "A Spatial Panel Simultaneous-Equations Model of Business Growth, Migration Behavior, Local Public Services and Household Income in Appalachia," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon 9895, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    8. Fu, Yuming & Gabriel, Stuart A., 2012. "Labor migration, human capital agglomeration and regional development in China," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 473-484.

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    California; Emigration and immigration;


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