Why do so many Americas flee blue states for red states? Over at Vox, Matt Ygelsias thinks he has the answer: Zoning and land use regulations in blue states make housing far more expensive there than it is in many red states. More:
Whatever else Blue America has going for it, it’s done a terrible job of generating enough housing supply to accommodate all the people who might like to live there. So in addition to the traditional southward migration of retirees you now see a substantial net population flow away from richer areas in the Northeast and the California coast to the relatively low-wage economies of Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia. For many working- and middle-class Americans, the lower cost of living makes a decisive difference.This comes about primarily because coastal areas have adopted excessively strict zoning rules. There is not enough semi-dense mid-rise construction in the affluent suburbs of San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, etc. Secondarily, there are too many restrictions on the creation of new big apartment towers in the very most expensive parts of coastal cities.
While we think other factors besides expensive housing contribute to driving people out of blue states, Yglesias is certainly right that it is an important factor. Housing eats up a high proportion of the budgets of residents in blue cities, and misguided blue policies contribute to the problem. And it’s not just the zoning laws—as The Economist recently pointed out, counterproductive green policies also help constrain housing supply in places like LA. Blue cities concerned about their residents’ bottom lines should start by dismantling these policies and working to lower the cost of living for everyone—but we’re not holding our breath.