A New Study Finds Reports of a Mass Exodus from California Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

New data is ’disappointing to those who want to write California’s obituary’

Despite many popular stories of residents fleeing California in droves, an investigation by the University of California finds that there is, in fact, no mass exodus from the Golden State—at least no more than usual.

The study, which began in fall 2020 and includes research from teams at UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, as well as Cornell and Stanford universities, concluded that the percentage of people planning to move out of state has actually “remained static” for the last two years.

As ABC 7 reports, a survey conducted by UC San Diego found 23 percent of California voters said they were seriously considering beating a retreat in 2020, which is a tad lower than 24 percent who said the same thing in a UC Berkeley survey in 2019.

The project also found that residents still believe in the “California Dream”—the one that says this is a great place to live and raise a family—by a margin of nearly two to one. However, that dream is most alive with Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and younger Californians, “while middle-class Californians, white respondents, older residents, and Republicans are more pessimistic.”

With dissatisfaction highest among middle-class residents making $50,000 to $100,000 a year, researchers believe politicians would be wise to address their issues.

“Policymakers, including those trying to prevent an exodus, should focus more on those who are not as optimistic about the state’s direction,” says Thad Kousser, chair of the political science department at UC San Diego, “including many in the middle class facing steep housing costs and people from areas of the state facing the greatest economic challenges.”

While some of the state’s mega-rich denizens, such as Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Tesla boss Elon Musk, have hit the bricks, the research indicates that “claims of ‘millionaire flight’ are unsupported by numerous data sets,” explaining, “affluent Californians are the group most satisfied with the direction of the state and very likely to believe that it will be a better place when today’s children grow up…despite multiple tax increases levied on higher earners in recent years.”

And no wonder, as the study also found that “California’s economy attracts as much venture capital as all other states combined.”

Most likely to consider leaving are residents of Northern California and the Central Valley, the study found. Additionally, while there is a trend of people getting out of San Francisco, two thirds of them remained in the Bay Area economic region and 80 percent stayed in California.

UC Regent John A. Pérez predicts, “The empirical data will be, at once, disappointing to those who want to write California’s obituary, as well as a call to action for policymakers to address the challenges that have caused some to lose faith in the California Dream.”

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