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Economics Research Institute Study Paper




Utah State University Department of Economics

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Population growth in the United States during the last two decades of the twentieth century was accompanied by major population shifts at the county level. It is clear that the dominant cause of relative change in county populations has been intercounty migration, rather than immigration from abroad or differences in natural population increase at the county level. Studies of migration typically examine migration between countries, or, in the United States, migration between states. The very few studies done on Us. intercounty migration attempt to explain migration on the basis of a limited range of variables. The current study uses an econometric model to identifY the importance of economic, demographic, social, environmental, and geographic variables in influencing the direction and magnitude of net in-migration for us. counties in 1990. While many of the conclusions are consistent with past research and general perception, others are not. Specifically, it is found that differences in unemployment rates among counties is not a significant determinant of intercounty migration, nor is violent crime. The percentage of married households in the county has a negative effect on net county in-migration, while average household size has a positive effect. The effect on net county in-migration of religious concentration in the county is almost always negative, regardless of which religion is involved,· but the direction of the effect of ethnic or ancestry concentration depends on which ethnic or ancestry group is involved. Both average county real per capita income and average years of education have aU-shaped impact on net in-migration.