Often referred to as “human capital” by scholars, people are the engines for economic prosperity. Most economists believe the more people living and working in our towns and cities, the more likely it is we’ll all be better off because of the innovation, activity and money swirling about.
This is probably why population declines scare local planners. When people leave without more people to replace them, tax bases decline. In addition, schools often get worse and job opportunities become more scarce.
That’s been true in Detroit, but it’s also a trend in much of Michigan. The state’s population is aging, many young people are moving away and the number of people having kids is dropping year over year, according to the latest numbers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“Michigan suffers net domestic out-migration as people who are at or near retirement age leave to generally a warmer climate.”— Donald Grimes, economist
Listen: Why economists hate declining populations.
Donald Grimes is a regional economic specialist at the University of Michigan. He has been looking at population changes in Michigan and how that impacts its economy. He says both retirement age and younger people often leave the state.
“Michigan suffers net domestic out-migration as people who are at or near retirement age leave to generally a warmer climate,” says Grimes. “Also, then people who are younger in the workforce tend to leave to find better employment opportunities.”