Economic freedom and migration: A metro area-level analysis

Imran Arif, Adam Hoffer, Dean Stansel, Donald Lacombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We examine the determinants of intra-U.S. population migration at the metropolitan area level (MSA), with an emphasis on the presence of policies that are consistent with economic freedom. We are the first to produce a multivariate regression analysis of migration and economic freedom at the local level. Combining a 1993–2014 unbalanced panel of MSA-to-MSA migration data from the Internal Revenue Service with a new economic freedom index for U.S. metropolitan areas, we find that a 10% increase in economic freedom of a destination MSA, relative to the economic freedom of an origin MSA, was associated with a 27.4% increase in net migration from the origin MSA to the destination MSA. If we use mean net migration flows as a benchmark, we would expect a 10% increase in relative economic freedom to increase net migration to the destination MSA by 22 workers per year from each other MSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-190
Number of pages21
JournalSouthern Economic Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • economic freedom
  • local government
  • metropolitan areas
  • migration


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