Thursday, June 17

Taxation and migration

A.S. at The Economist explains that people move to Texas because the taxes are low:
IN THE ten years I’ve lived in New York I forgot how to drive. Lately I’ve been spending lots of time in Austin, Texas. Enough so that I’ve had to start driving again. When you go many years without driving, it becomes terrifying. So to refresh my skills I took lessons with a wonderfully patient and brave woman who has taught driving in Austin for nearly thirty years. I expected to be one of her few adult students, but no. My instructor claimed in the past few years the number of adult students increased exponentially, not quite rivalling the number of teenagers. Most are tech workers who come from all over the world, drawn by the vigorous labour market. Adult driving students struck me as a rather interesting economic indicator. It doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Migration statistics reveal that people are moving in droves to Texas. Why? Jobs and no state income taxes. High earning New Yorkers and Californians can take home between 9% and 11% more of their income by moving to Texas. Every trip down I speak to at least one bitter New Yorker/Californian fed up with high taxes and cost of living.
Yglesias responds:
Well . . . maybe. Texas certainly is growing rapidly, and it does have a relatively healthy labor market. But even though a lot of people are moving to Texas, it seems to me that California’s population is also growing at an impressive clip:

I suspect A.S. is being somewhat misled by this fascinating interactive tool which charts domestic migration only and thus gives the impression that certain places are experiencing massive net population flight when in fact they’re just attracting a lot of immigrants.
So successful citizens are moving to low tax states while less well off immigrants head to high welfare states. Is anyone surprised?

I'm all for open immigration, but I'd much rather live with a red state's economy. As should anyone who's interested in a healthy labor market with low taxes and welfare. Among people who feel the same, the Economist's point stands.

Alas, the problems with Texas are certainly not economic—rather, they are called Texans.


  1. "Alas, the problems with Texas are certainly not economic—rather, they are called Texans."

    Well, that, and a lousy climate, terrible cities (Austin excepted), and a lot of ugly nothing in between some admittedly beautiful terrain.

    I'll stick with California for now. Our politics are seriously messed up, but the tech industry is here, and there's lots of great stuff to do and experience here. Perhaps living in Texas makes sense economically, but quality of life is a pretty important consideration as well.

  2. You can certainly take your John Kerry-esque "flyover country" comments and place them into a moist orifice in the lower half of your anatomy. The reason Texas is a good place to live is TEXANS. If you want to live in California or New York, and have fine art and elevated trains, and cities that give junkies needles at taxpayer expense, GO HOME. If you don't like firearms, bar-b-q, or country music, GO HOME. Call me a bigot, racist, whatever cutesy-pie snarky liberal-speech-standard name you wish, I don't care...if you want all that crud that you had in those other states, THEN GO HOME, most of us TEXANS don't...and a lot of us ain't going to put up with it. (Bill White can KMA).