Sparking Debate over State Migration

August 26, 2013

Our Monday Map series has generated an impressive amount of discussion over the years, with our friends and critics alike starting debates over everything from local sales taxes to beer excise rates. Few of them, however, have sparked as much discussion as out recent map on migration of income among the states.

That map draws data from our interactive State Migration Calculator, and illustrates the interstate movement of income over the previous decade, from 2000 to 2010. When a person moves to a new state, their income is added to the total of all other incomes in that state. This positively affects the total taxable income in his or her new state, and negatively affects the income in the state he or she left.

In addition to local and regional stories focusing on individual states like New York, Rhode Island and Maryland, the question of where Americans are migrating and for what reasons was a topic of debate on Friday's episode of The Kudlow Report on CNBC.

Larry and the panel came to some very strong conclusions, so we should repeat the caveat we also present with the data. There a lot of different reasons that motivate individuals to move from one state to another, from weather and schools to relationships and job opportunities. Taxes certainly aren't the only reason, but they do enter into the mix. More importantly, they're one of the few motivations that state lawmakers have direct control over. No state can legislate itself sunny days or beautiful beaches to attract new residents, but they can always reform their tax code.


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