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Economic Freedom and Migration Flows between U.S. States


  • Nathan J. Ashby

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)


A modified gravity model is estimated using a cross section of data drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau survey of 2000 in order to analyze the impact of economic freedom on gross migration flows among the lower 48 states. Spatial econometric methods are utilized in order to capture spatial effects not detected by distance. In addition, the Economic Freedom of North America Index is decomposed to determine the individual impact of various policies. Results show that states with higher relative economic freedom experience greater migration inflow through its direct impact on income and employment growth. In aggregate, the findings indicate that individuals migrate toward states with relatively higher government consumption expenditures, relatively lower tax burdens, and states with more freedom with respect to labor decisions in the form of less restrictive minimum wages, less concentration of unions, and less dependence on public employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathan J. Ashby, 2007. "Economic Freedom and Migration Flows between U.S. States," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 677-697, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:73:3:y:2007:p:677-697

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McCann, Philip, 2001. "Urban and Regional Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198776451.
    2. Sadequl Islam, 1996. "Economic freedom, per capita income and economic growth," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(9), pages 595-597.
    3. Brian Cushing & Jacques Poot, 2003. "Crossing boundaries and borders: Regional science advances in migration modelling," Papers in Regional Science, Springer;Regional Science Association International, vol. 83(1), pages 317-338, October.
    4. Greenwood, Michael J, et al, 1991. "Migration, Regional Equilibrium, and the Estimation of Compensating Differentials," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1382-1390, December.
    5. Easton, Stephen T & Walker, Michael A, 1997. "Income, Growth, and Economic Freedom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 328-332, May.
    6. James D. Gwartney & Robert A. Lawson & Randall G. Holcombe, 1999. "Economic Freedom and the Environment for Economic Growth," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(4), pages 643-643, December.
    7. W. Kenn Farr & Richard A. Lord & J. Larry Wolfenbarger, 1998. "Economic Freedom, Political Freedom, and Economic Well-Being: A Causality Analysis," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 18(2), pages 247-262, Fall.
    8. Jac C. Heckelman, 2005. "Proxies for Economic Freedom: A Critique of the Hanson Critique," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 492-501, October.
    9. A. Porojan, 2001. "Trade Flows and Spatial Effects: The Gravity Model Revisited," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 265-280, July.
    10. Alfredo Esposto & Peter Zaleski, 1999. "Economic Freedom and the Quality of Life: An Empirical Analysis," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 185-197, June.
    11. Lee C. Adkins & Ronald L. Moomaw & Andreas Savvides, 2002. "Institutions, Freedom, and Technical Efficiency," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 92-108, July.
    12. repec:cto:journl:v:18:y:1998:i:2:p: is not listed on IDEAS
    13. de Haan, Jakob & Siermann, Clemens L J, 1998. "Further Evidence on the Relationship between Economic Freedom and Economic Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(3-4), pages 363-380, June.
    14. Herbert G. Grubel, 1998. "Economic Freedom and Human Welfare: Some Empirical Findings," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 18(2), pages 287-304, Fall.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism


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