Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Younghwan Song




borders, migration, destination, utility, United States


This paper investigates whether or not aggregate state satisfaction plays a significant role in the movement of people across state borders. A person’s decision on whether to migrate or not depends on the anticipated utility of the origin state compared to that of the destination state. If the utility of the destination state is greater than the utility of the origin state, the person will relocate, and if the utility of the destination state is lower than the utility of the origin state, the person will not relocate. Utility includes both monetary and non-monetary costs and benefits. The monetary utility includes demand for labor, per capita income, costs of migration, and other monetary considerations. However, non-monetary utility is less easily quantified. Satisfaction also affects utility (Di Tella et al. 2006) and, thus, should also be a consideration of non- monetary utility. Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which presents satisfaction indices for all 50 states within the United States between 2005 and 2008, and the American Community Survey, a migration dataset from 2006 through 2009, this paper finds that satisfaction is a factor in people’s decisions to migrate between states. Satisfaction is important in both of the participating states. Increased satisfaction in the origin state lowers the amount of out-migration. Increased satisfaction in the destination state increases the amount of in-migration.