CPS migration data

Greg Kaplan and Sam Schulhofer-Wohl of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis have an interesting new paper that suggests that much of the recently reported decline in interstate migration may simply be a statistical artifact. In particular, the recession, at least through 2009, has not reduced mobility more than would have been predicted based on the trend since 1996.

From the paper’s abstract:

The Census Bureau’s imputation procedure for dealing with missing data before the 2006 survey year inflated the estimated interstate migration rate. An undocumented change in the procedure corrected the problem for the 2006 and later surveys, thus reducing the estimated migration rate. The change in imputation procedures explains 90 percent of the reported decrease in interstate migration between 2005 and 2006, and 42 percent of the decrease between 2000 (the recent high-water mark) and 2010. After we remove the effect of the change in procedures, we find that the annual interstate migration rate follows a smooth downward trend from 1996 to 2010. The 2007–2009 recession is not associated with any additional decrease in interstate migration relative to trend.

The full paper is here (pdf).

(Via Andrew Gelman.)

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