It is no secret that Puerto Rico has faced a large outward domestic migration for more than a decade. Researching U.S. domestic migration trends from 2011 to 2019, we find that states and territories where economic freedom—the right of people to earn an honest living free from unnecessary government intervention—has been fostered, have higher net inbound domestic migration. On the contrary, where there were more onerous and unnecessary interventions, net outbound domestic migration predominated.
When Puerto Rico is included in the analysis of absolute net migration patterns from state to state based on statistics from the United States Census Bureau, the island ranks sixth with the highest outbound migration, from 2011 to 2019. In these years, 577,759 Puerto Ricans (18% of the population) migrated to other states. If we consider the total population, Puerto Rico is the second jurisdiction with the highest net outbound migration for said period and the one with the highest net outbound domestic migration by the percentage of the population in the United States, between 2015 and 2019.
In the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual report, Rich States, Poor States, Arizona ranks first in economic performance. Statistical data from Arizona shows sustained growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 2% in 2013 to 6% in 2019. In addition, Arizona has a right-to-work law, and its personal income and tax rates are among the lowest nationally. These are some of the reasons why Arizona is in third place among the states with the most net inbound migration.
When Puerto Rico is included in the analysis of absolute net migration patterns from state to state based on statistics from the United States Census Bureau, the island ranks sixth in outward migration from 2011 to 2019, Milton writes. Quiles. (Archive / GFR Media)
In contrast, New York is one of the states whose GDP has decreased the most, from 6% in 2012 to 4% in 2020. This state does not have a right-to-work law and, between 2011 and 2019, it had a net outbound migration of 1,432,987 inhabitants, which ranked first in this category. In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Bloomberg article, the pattern of outbound migration in New York began to reverse, due to the gradual return to office work and the city's enduring appeal.
When looking at other states and territories, it is notable that those with the highest net inbound migration are those with the lowest tax burdens, that encourage entrepreneurial activity, that are fiscally healthy, and that have strong economies. Likewise, those with the highest net outbound migration are those that impose higher tax burdens and more regulations and offer fewer employment opportunities.
To reduce the exodus of Puerto Ricans to the United States and promote economic growth on the island, it is essential to promote economic freedoms for people, alleviate tax burdens on income, eliminate overregulation that hinders business activity, and promote a limited and efficient government.
In this way, "Puerto Ricans who want to live here forever and fulfill their dreams without having to leave Puerto Rico," as Bad Bunny recently said, will be able to do so.
This piece was originally published in Spanish in El Nuevo Dia