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Voting with your feet: Political competition and internal migration in the United States

Wai-Man Liu and Phong Ngo

European Journal of Political Economy, 2020, vol. 65, issue C

Abstract: Do people “vote with their feet” in response to a lack of political competition? Since political competition is associated with higher growth and welfare, with the free movement of labour, we argue that it should also encourage inward migration. We test this hypothesis by using data from the US and find a strong positive relation between political competition and net migration. This result is robust to alternative specifications, alternative samples and addressing endogeneity using the Voting Rights Act to instrument for political competition. The effect is economically large, specifically, we find that an increase in political competition in the order of magnitude observed in US Southern states during the post-war period leads to an increase in net migration by between 27 and 44 individuals per 1000 population.

Keywords: Political competition; Internal migration; Welfare; Voting rights act (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 H70 J61 N92 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2020.101931

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