In my post yesterday regarding out-migration from California, I referenced the recent "Rich States, Poor States" study produced by the American Legislative Exchange Council. This publication, which is in its 5th annual edition, is invaluable because, as often as we talk about states as "laboratories of democracy", we rarely bother ourselves with the logical correlate of that belief: that public policy in each of the states should be systematically analyzed and compared to give us an idea of best practices. That's exactly what Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams do in the study and the results are fascinating.
What has struck me most as I read through the report are the migratory patterns that the authors note. During the last decade, these were the states with the highest net domestic migration:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
And these were the states in the bottom 10 (1 being the worst):
- New York
- New Jersey
You may notice a few patterns. The vast majority of states gaining in population are either solidly conservative or at least-right leaning, while most of the losers incline in the other direction. Taxes and regulation tend to be far lower in the states with higher in-migration than in those that are bleeding citizens.
But here's the one that jumped out at me: Of the 10 states with the biggest gains, eight are right-to-work states (the exceptions, Washington and Colorado, owe their popularity in part to being destinations of choice for Californians who aren't willing to leave their liberalism behind.) Meanwhile, only one of the 10 states at the bottom is right to work -- Louisiana, whose decline in population is an aberration attributable to Hurricane Katrina rather than economic causes. Perhaps the slogan should be amended to "live better, work union, and watch the whole thing burn to the ground around you."