You haven’t seen similar mobility in the slow-growth years of this century. There is heavy domestic outmigration from high-cost, high-immigration metro New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles to the interior. But people in the Rust Belt have been staying put.
To understand why, read Ron Bailey’s riveting December 10 article for Reason, titled “Stuck,” about his family’s ancestral home in McDowell County, W.Va. It was the nation’s No. 1 coal-producing county in 1950, when the Baileys left. Many others did, too; McDowell County’s population declined from 98,000 in 1950 to 22,000 in 2010.
But few people are leaving now — even though those who remain are in miserable shape. McDowell County has the lowest male life expectancy of any American county, and it has a high percentage of heroin addiction. Only about half of children are raised in two-parent families.
It also has a very high dependency on government.