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Over 35k Americans Moved Into a New Home in 2016

Over 35k Americans Moved Into a New Home in 2016
(Dreamstime) 

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Thursday, 07 September 2017 11:09 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Census Bureau data shows that 35,138,000 Americans moved to a new home in 2016.[1] That figure includes 7.5 million who moved to a new county in the same state, 4.8 million who moved to a new state, and 1.3 million who moved to another country. That represents 11.2 percent of the population, the lowest percentage ever recorded.[2] Over 40 percent of Americans moved annually in the years following World War II. As explained in my book, "Politics Has Failed: America Will Not," the freedom to move explains why we are happier with local government than with the federal government. 

We get to choose where we live and that gives us the power to hold local government accountable. Just like voluntary organizations and retail firms, communities compete for residents, employers and jobs.

We choose a place to live based upon the lifestyle mix of housing, activities, taxes, and services. The local government influences that balance, but so do a host of other factors such as geography, climate, traditions, entertainment options, and jobs. Sometimes people have a sentimental attachment to a place that makes them overlook other flaws and sometimes people have the opposite reaction.

Wherever they choose to live, most people don’t bother to vote in local elections. Fortunately, they have a more powerful tool to hold officials accountable—they have the freedom to choose.

According to an influential journal publication written long ago by Northwestern University’s Charles M. Tiebout, "The act of moving or failing to move is crucial," adding, "Moving or failing to move replaces the usual market test of willingness to buy a good and reveals the consumer-voter’s demand for public goods."[3]

Looked at this way, when we choose a place to live, we are "buying" a particular mix of lifestyle benefits and the price we pay is determined by housing costs, taxes, regulations, and other factors. If the costs go up or the benefits go down, we might rise up and try to vote in a new team to fix the problem.

After all, it’s a bit of a hassle to move. But, sooner or later, if the prices keep going up or the services keep going down, we can express our displeasure simply by moving.

The fact that individuals and businesses are free to move places great constraints on the power of local government officials. If, for example, the officials raise taxes too high or cut valued services too low, some people would move away.

Others who had been thinking of moving to the community for the first time would re-evaluate their options. Housing prices would decline and the community would become less desirable.

Just as likely, however, is the fact that change could come from totally outside the local government. If a major employer leaves town, that too could encourage people to move elsewhere and lead to a decline in city tax revenue, services, and housing prices. So, local officials have the difficult task of finding the right mix of costs and benefits to keep businesses and individuals from moving away.

Fortunately, as consumers, we don’t have to evaluate all of their policy decisions, we just have to look at the end result. 

Footnotes:

  1. United States Census Bureau, "Geographical Mobility: 2015 to 2016," November 15, 2016
  2. United States Census Bureau, "Americans Moving at Historically Low Rates, Census Bureau Reports," November 16, 2016
  3. Tiebout, Charles M. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures." Journal of Political Economy 64, 5. (1956).

Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day is published by Ballotpedia. Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology.

Scott Rasmussen is a Senior Fellow for the Study of Self-Governance at the King’s College in New York and an Editor-At-Large for Ballotpedia, the Encyclopedia of American Politics. His most recent book, "Politics Has Failed: America Will Not," was published by the Sutherland Institute in May.To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Census Bureau data shows that 35,138,000 Americans moved to a new home in 2016. That includes 7.5 million who moved to a new county in the same state, 4.8 million who moved to a new state, and 1.3 million who moved to another country. That's 11.2 percent of the population.
census bureau, federal, government
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2017-09-07
Thursday, 07 September 2017 11:09 AM
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