Poverty does not drive outmigration in most nonmetro counties

A map of the U.S. showing poverty rates in nonmetro counties.

High net outmigration might be expected in areas with above-average poverty rates, since poverty suggests a lack of economic opportunity. The working-age population in particular is likely to react to economic opportunity in deciding where to live. In 1988-2008, however, this relationship held only in counties with poverty rates above 25 percent. While 60 percent of these "high-poverty" counties had high net outmigration, poverty rates below 25 percent had no apparent relevance, indicating that different factors underlie high net outmigration in most nonmetro areas. This map appeared in the December 2010 issue of Amber Waves magazine.

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