Can Freedom and Knowledge Economy Indexes Explain Go-Getter Migration Patterns?

Can knowledge and freedom indexes provide insights about where young people move?

This article originally appeared as a Mercatus Working Paper.

The study of domestic and international migration within and to the United States is deep and wide, but as yet no one has developed and tested models that focus on the use of knowledge economy, economic freedom, and personal freedom indexes. Using statistical regression models, we build models about migration patterns of people that historian Daniel Boorstin called “Go-Getters.” We model migration patterns across the 50 states for domestic and international movers ages 25-39 from 2004-2008. We find dramatic differences in the determinants of migration for the two groups. All else equal, international movers appear to be driven more by state knowledge economy developments and personal freedom. Domestic movers are not attracted by stronger knowledge economies but are driven by higher levels of state creativity and economic freedom.