California Exodus More fiction than reality, study finds


LOS ANGELES, CA – While billionaire Elon Musk may have left California on a high-profile blast, the legendary exodus of weary Californians is just a myth, according to a University of California poll released Wednesday.

The state is growing slowly enough to lose a seat in Congress for the first time in history, but residents are not fleeing the state in droves. A consortium of universities, including UCLA, set out to assess the long-standing history of the “California exodus” in order to guide state policy to focus on changing needs of residents and population models.

What they found is that California has real challenges – namely housing affordability – but its residents are not yet giving up on the Golden State dream.

“From housing affordability to post-pandemic recovery, California faces an impressive number of existential challenges,” said UC Regent John Perez. “Sliced ​​and sliced ​​up based on geography, race, income, and other demographic factors, our efforts have produced a clearer picture of who perceives California as the Golden State versus a failed state.

“The empirical evidence will be both disappointing for those who want to write the California obituary, as well as a call to action for policymakers to address the challenges that have made some lose faith in the dream. Californian, ”he continued.

Formed in fall 2020, the project includes studies by researchers at UCLA, UCSD, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Cornell University. The research draws on public opinion data, the U.S. Census, consumer credit history, homeownership rates, venture capital investments, and information from the Franchise Tax Board.

Survey of 3,000 Californians found an 8% drop in the percentage of Californians who rated the state as one of the best places to live, from 50% in the 2019 survey to 42% in the UCSD survey 2021.

The poll found that well-off Californians are the happiest group with the state’s leadership and very likely to believe it will be a better place when today’s kids grow up. Analysis of nearly two decades of Franchise Tax Board data has shown no flight of millionaires away from California despite multiple tax increases imposed on top earners in recent years.

“Despite the popular notion of unhappy Californians leaving the state in droves, our solid research shows that there is in fact no exodus,” said Thad Kousser, chair of the political science department at UCSD and principal investigator of the last survey.

The UCLA study found that the number of people leaving California to other states has tended to increase since 2012, but is similar to levels last seen in the mid-2000s.

UCLA research also shows that Americans between the ages of 25 and 39 move about twice that of middle-aged or older people. While move to California remains high for young people through 2019, the combination of some decline and those leaving the state has caused the number of young people moving to California to drop overall.

The number of Americans aged 60 and over moving to California has declined since 2014, while more elderly Californians are leaving the state. The number of younger and older residents leaving California has also increased since 2014.

Among U.S. destinations, Texas and Washington topped the list among young people, while low-cost and near areas of Nevada and Arizona dominated destinations among older Californians.

Less than 5% of foreign-born immigrants who arrived in the United States in the previous two years have left California.

The UCSD recently conducted a survey which found that the percentage of Californians considering leaving the state has remained stable over the past two years: 23% of California voters said they are seriously considering leaving the state. , up from 24% found in a 2019 survey conducted by UC Berkeley.

The UCSD investigation also revealed:

– With a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Californians said they still believe in the “California Dream” – that it is a great place to live and raise a family. Spanish speakers, Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and young Californians are more optimistic, while middle-class Californians, white respondents, older residents, and Republicans are more pessimistic;

– Those who live in parts of the state that have not been part of recent economic expansions are most likely to consider relocating;

– Middle-class Californians earning between $ 50,000 and $ 100,000 are most concerned about the state of California on Wednesday and its future;

– There is a gap between the percentage of Democrats – 21% – and Republicans – 30% – seriously considering moving.

– Asked over 10 years, 35% of those questioned think that it would be better for the population to decrease significantly and 46% want it to stay roughly the same. Only 19% of those polled said the state would be better off if its population grew.

He also found that there is no evidence that wealthy households are leaving the state in large numbers, with roughly two-thirds of the people who left San Francisco stayed in the Bay Area Economic Region of 11. counties, while 80% remained in California, which is in line with trends from previous years.

Finally, the UC-led project presents an analysis by Cornell University sociology professor Cristobal Young on which states get the most venture capital investment.

California’s share of venture capital rose from a third in 1995 to more than half in the 2010s. In the first quarter of 2021, the state’s share of venture capital funding rose at 48%, slightly below trend but in line with normal year-to-year fluctuations.

City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.


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