April 1, 2006
In the wake of terrorist threats, gas price spikes, hurricanes, and a run-up in housing prices in certain markets, there has been broad discussion recently about the value to the U.S. of encouraging greater development in the nation’s interior. Population growth along America’s coasts is crowding more people into ever smaller areas, while the interior of the country remains relatively open. As the U.S population is projected to grow to 400 million in the next half century, America has an incentive to encourage people on the coasts to settle inland. A policy to encourage migration to the Plains states would have a positive impact on the overcrowded coasts and bring needed human capital to the middle of the country. There have been many policy proposals (see Joel Kotkin, “Hinterland Ahoy!”, Wall Street Journal, 9/27/05) to encourage such movement. However, part of the challenge of encouraging migration might lie not in policy, but in the perception people have of these inland states.
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