UC Study Finds No Evidence Of California Exodus
Speaker 1: 00:00 California lost enough population in 2020 to cut one congressional seat from our Washington delegation and some recent headlines make it seem like high profile businesses are streaming out of the state. We even lost Elon Musk to Texas, but a new study shows that most of California's population still thinks of the state as golden and heading toward a better future. That hope seems centered in California's youngest and fastest growing demographics. Some older wealthier Californians still have their doubts. Joining me is Thad Couser, UC San Diego political science professor, and co author of the study and fed welcome back. Thanks for having me. So what did all the publicity about California losing population that prompted this study? Speaker 2: 00:48 Yeah, we'd seen all of this narrative over the course of the winter, right? Elon Musk is going to Texas, a Tesla moving, uh, different businesses leaving. And so we'd seen story after story with anecdotes of people leaving. And then we saw that dip in, in the pandemic. It was really related to fewer people moving into the state from other countries, a lower birth rate and unfortunately, a higher death rate, but it created this narrative of a California Exodus. And so what we did in this study that I co-authored with Cassidy, Reller at UCF and an a series of studies done by, by people at Berkeley and people at UCLA. We use an array of different data sources to try to figure out what's going to come next. Right. Is there a real Exodus as, as the state comes out of, of the pandemic in and people can move, are we going to see people leaving the state and what we found surprisingly, but, but a fitting with, with a lot of data from other sources is that there doesn't seem to be signs of a looming Exodus. There's been no change in the percentage of Californians from, from a Berkeley poll two years ago, who say, they're thinking about leaving the state we haven't seen from credit card records, more people moving out of the state and the state still tracking the lion's share of venture capital across the country. And by two to one margin, California say that the California dream still works for people like them and their family. Speaker 1: 02:05 Give us an idea of the questions you asked on the survey. Speaker 2: 02:08 We asked a series of questions about what people thought about the state today. Does the dream work for you two to one margin in favor of it, about where they, where it's headed tomorrow, right? And in where, how it compares to other states. So, so we found that most Californians think the state will be a better place for when the children today grow up. But there are groups that are, that are quite pessimistic about that. So for instance, older, California is much more pessimistic about the future of the state. If you look by demographics, you do see some, some real fundamental differences. And then we asked where people are headed in the future. Where do they plan to move this year in the next five years? Do they plan to retire? Do they think things will be better along a number of different dimensions in other states? And then finally that question of are they considering a move? Give Speaker 1: 02:49 Us an idea about how that breaks down demographically, by ethnicity, race, age, income, and actually even location in the state. Speaker 2: 02:58 So one of the patterns we found was that there's certain parts of the state and in certain parts of the economic distribution, that there really are suffering that are, that are least optimistic about the future of the state. And most likely to say they may move. So if you look at the regions of the state, the parts of state that have really been bypassed by California's, uh, economic expanse in the central valley parts of the Northern California, outside the bay area, there, you see as many as 37% of people saying they're contemplating a move. Whereas in San Diego and orange county, only 17% were some of the happiest people with California, uh, in, in this state, if you look at across age, the older Californians, much more likely to be pessimistic about its future. Young California is very hopeful about the state where it's going, what their role in it is. But older, uh, California is actually less likely to move in part. And we think this, our hunches, that this is because they're very high home ownership rates. And then finally the groups that arising in California's population, Spanish speakers, other Latino Californians, African-Americans, Asian-Americans generally fairly optimistic about the state in its direction. White California is less optimistic about the California dream, whether it still works for them and whether the state will be better in the future. And what's Speaker 1: 04:06 Your take on why younger nonwhite Californians would have a healthy optimism about California's future? Well, I Speaker 2: 04:13 Think one of the things that I see, and this is speaking beyond the data, but just being on a university campus, right? Young people are always fairly optimistic about the future and their opportunities to grow. I think they're also starting from a, from a lower baseline and starting from lower incomes and expecting to see their incomes rise as, as they move into the workforce, as they progress in their careers, as they're able to try to buy a home. And the question is whether the policies passed over the next 5, 10, 20 years will, will actually help them fulfill those dreams they have or, or whether they'll get stuck. One group, speaking of getting stuck that we see is, is people in the middle income rages between 50 and a hundred thousand are really the least optimistic about the state and our hunts there in this fits with the data that we've seen in many of these other studies. There's, that's really where people are struggling to buy a home people who can buy a house in many other states, but, but really struggle for home ownership in places like San Diego LA the bay area. And I think that is a policy worth addressing Speaker 1: 05:11 Political divide between Democrats and Republicans and their views of California and its future. Speaker 2: 05:17 It's always a political divide in America. But one of the shocking things about this poll is we actually saw that compared to 2019 poll done by UC Berkeley on this question of, do you want to move where we saw a huge political divide where Republicans were twice, as likely as Democrats to say they wanted to move that now has narrowed right to only about a 10 percentage point gap. Uh, it's one of the few things I've ever seen narrow in a partisan gap, like in the time that I've been studying politics, but if you look at people's views about the state and its future, there are some really strong partisan gaps that emerge Republicans don't feel like they're part of the direction of the state in many ways. And that that fits with what we've seen in other polls in it. And it really fits with the story that's led to this recall election that we'll be seeing in a few months. Speaker 1: 05:59 So overall, this study is good news for California, but in looking at it, do you see areas of concern for the state, from the results of this study? Speaker 2: 06:08 I think the study shows that in the near term, we're not going to see a flood out of California of its population. But I think that the study really highlights that there are certain regions of the state, certain parts of the socioeconomic ladder and certain groups in California that that really are suffering. And don't feel like they're part of the state. And, you know, this has given rise to remember that six state movement a few years ago, to split the state up. We seen secession movements in the far Northern California. I think these are all symptoms of some concerns that the California is, is moving too much in one direction. And that there are some people in California who don't have access to that dream of being able to afford housing, being able to get to their job without a massive commute. And those are the policies worth addressing, and to have the California dream work for everyone. I've been speaking with Speaker 1: 06:54 UC San Diego political science professor Thad. Couser that thank you very much. Thanks for having me.