From L.A. to Boise: How Migration Has Changed During the COVID-19 Pandemic
60 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 18 Mar 2022
Date Written: March 18, 2022
We examine how the broad changes in work arrangements and lifestyles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the location decisions of households. We use proprietary data on over 360,000 residential, interstate moves over the last five years with accompanying survey data. We find more than 12% of moves between April 2020--December 2021 were influenced by COVID-19, with a significant shift in migration towards smaller cities, lower cost of living locations, lower tax locales, and locations with fewer pandemic-related restrictions. Higher income households are moving out of more populous cities at greater rates, and they are moving more for lifestyle reasons and less for work-related reasons, consistent with increased location flexibility due to shifts to remote work arrangements. Low income households reasons for moving are relatively unchanged. Among the pandemic-induced movers, over 15% of households are citing remote work as the reason the pandemic has influenced their moves and this proportion has remained steady through 2021. Our results have implications for many outcomes of interest including the future structure of cities, the persistence of remote work arrangements, municipal financing, and real estate.
Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Relocation, Remote Work, Agglomeration
JEL Classification: R23, J61, J11, R10, O15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation