Mapped: Where Californians Moved Between 2020–2021
Californians have had a hard time with it in recent years. Because of the state’s ballooning cost of living, many residents—particularly from middle and low income families—have departed for more affordable states.
But where did they go?
USAFacts tracked data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates, and visualized the states with the highest number of Californian transplants between 2020–21. The interactive heat map colors states by popularity—the darker the shade, the more Californians moved there.
Ranked: States with Highest Californian Transplants
More than 100,000 Californians moved to Texas between 2020–21, well ahead of second place Arizona (63,000 Californians) and third ranked Nevada (55,000).
Texas has recently emerged as a popular destination, not just for Californians, but Americans from all regions. No state income tax and lower cost of living, along with a growing tech hub is pulling in Americans from all income brackets. Meanwhile, Arizona and Nevada offer similar tax and affordability benefits as well.
Here’s the full ranking of which state Californians moved to in the first full year of the pandemic.
On opposite corners of the country Washington (47,000) and Florida (41,000) round out the top five destinations for Californian expats.
On the other hand West Virginia and Delaware were the least popular spots for Californians to move to, with both attracting fewer than 1,000 people.
Ranked: Californian Net Migration
As startling as these numbers seem, it’s also useful to remember that many people also move to California, which is the biggest economic hub in the U.S.
Below we have California’s net migration numbers, accounting for those moving to the state, where a negative number implies that California lost more residents than it gained from a particular state.
Unsurprisingly, California lost the most net residents to Texas, Arizona, and Nevada. However Idaho jumps past Florida and Washington, with California losing 21,000 more residents than gained from the Gem State.
In fact, both Idaho and Nevada had the highest proportion of incoming Californians to their 2021 populations, at more than 1.38%.
On the other hand, California gained more residents than it lost from four states (New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts) and Washington D.C.
Why Are Californians Leaving?
A key driver of migration is the state’s continuing affordability challenges where housing costs have pushed home ownership out of many Californians’ reach. It is also one of the most difficult states to retire in, where $1 million can last as little as eight years.
Separately, the rise of remote work in 2020 allowed many Californians to move out of their more expensive state to cross into regions with a lower cost of living while maintaining their economic opportunities.
Within the state itself, the more rural, less populous parts have seen, proportionally, the most outward bound migration—a phenomenon occurring across America.
These sustained levels of outward migration, combined with slower population growth, has consequences. California already lost a seat in the House of Representatives after the 2020 Census (Texas gained two and Florida gained one) which results in one fewer vote in the Electoral College and proportionally lower census-guided federal spending.
At the same time however, while domestic outward migration continues, the Golden State is still successfully attracting international immigrants who are more than filling up the gaps.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
When Will the Global Population Reach Its Peak?
Population projections from the UN suggest that there will be over 10 billion people by 2060, though other organizations disagree.
Comparing Global Population Projections to 2100
When will the world reach its peak population?
According to data from the United Nations’ 2022 Revision of its World Population Prospects, we could see a peak of over 10.4 billion people sometime in the late 2080s.
While the UN’s projections are the most widely used, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the most accurate. Several alternative models have predicted an earlier and lower peak, suggesting that the world’s population could decline sooner than expected.
In the UN’s latest revisions, it lowered its own estimates for global population in 2100, from 10.9 billion (as of 2019) to 10.4 billion (as of 2022).
In this graphic, we’ve visualized population projections to 2100 from three organizations: the UN, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
Data and Highlights
The population projection data we used to create this graphic is listed in the table below. Note that UN projections are as of 2022, IHME are as of 2020, and IIASA are as of 2014.
From this data we can see that the UN expects the world to hit peak population in 2086, as well as maintain above 10 billion people in 2100.
On the other hand, neither the IHME nor IIASA models expect global population to reach 10 billion, instead forecasting a peak of 9.7 billion in the 2060s (IHME) or 9.4 billion in 2070 (IIASA). Both models also predict population to fall back to the 8 billion range by 2100.
The differential at 2100 is substantial, with IHME’s forecast lower than the UN’s by 1.6 billion people, for example.
What Is the IHME and IIASA, and Why Do They Differ?
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is a Seattle-based research institute founded in 2007 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its mission is to “deliver to the world timely, relevant, and scientifically valid evidence to improve health policy and practice.”
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), on the other hand, is an international research institute based in Austria, dating back to 1972. It was established to improve scientific cooperation between the Soviet Union and the U.S., and today has members in over 20 countries.
To understand why the IHME and IIASA models differ from the UN’s, let’s look at each organization’s projections for fertility rate, which is measured as the number of children per woman.
Based on this chart, the IHME and IIASA expect global fertility rates to fall at a quicker rate pre-2050, then stabilize as we approach 2100. This contrasts with the UN’s projections, which expect fertility to decrease at a slower, steadier rate all the way to 2100.
Generally speaking, a country’s birth rate declines as it becomes more developed. This is due to many factors like higher education rates for women (and thus more women in the workforce), greater access to contraceptives and family planning, as well as higher childbearing costs.
How Fast Will Fertility Rates Fall in Africa?
Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, but this is quickly falling as the region experiences rapid economic growth.. For instance, GDP per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa has climbed from $632 in 2000, to $1,690 in 2022.
Because of this economic transformation, some researchers believe that Africa will undergo a fast demographic transition similar to East Asia, in which population growth falls off sharply. For instance, a UNICEF survey from 2021 found that fertility rates in Nigeria had fallen from 5.8 to 4.6 (a 17% decrease) in just five years time.
Now going back to the question at hand, let’s see how the UN and IHME’s fertility rate projections for Sub-Saharan Africa differ.
These differences may seem small, but even a few decimal places can have a huge impact. For example, let’s revisit the UN’s population projection for the year 2100, which was 10.4 billion people.
Under the UN’s low fertility scenario (birth rates remain 0.5 lower), population in 2100 would be a significantly smaller 7.0 billion. Meanwhile, under the high fertility scenario (birth rates remain 0.5 higher), population would balloon to 14.7 billion.
As a result, how birth rates change in high fertility regions like Sub-Saharan Africa will have a significant influence on when the global population will reach its peak.
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