Wonkblog: Migration

Why Americans stopped relocating, in one graph

Something weird happened in the 1980s — and I don’t mean big hair or Spandex: Americans stopped moving. Particularly, the number of Americans who migrate between different states slowed dramatically. Here’s what that looks like in a chart, courtesy of a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper:

Migration from state to state increased sharply in the wake of World War II. It continued to creep up through the 1960s and 1970s, too. But moving started slowing down in the 1980s — and never stopped. “By most measures, internal migration in the United States is at a 30-year low,” the NBER authors Raven Molloy, Christopher Smith and Abigail Wozniak write. “Migration rates have fallen for most distances, demographic and socioeconomic groups, and geographic areas.

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