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Activism, Humanity, Good World

Blue to Red State Migration: Why This Could Impact the Fight for Women's Rights

Jlavraie25 contributor

To what extent can these states continue to lure in educated, liberal women when their essential freedoms are at risk?

If you're a woman and feel like you're living in an increasingly dystopian society, you're not alone. We can even say that depending on where you live, you might be experiencing this at a higher degree, contingent on who's controlling your State's government. As federal protections on women's rights become dismantled by a right-leaning Supreme Court, the most notable case being the overturn of Roe V. Wade in June last year, the lives of millions of women in red states are disproportionately affected. Paired with increased political attacks on the LGBTQ community, these changes make people feel powerless and threatened, many fearing what these changes will make of the places they call home. Despite what seems like the impending tear down of women's rights in many red states, data does not show an increase in migration to blue or more liberal states, even though it would make sense that the rise in restrictive policies would lead to a sort of large scale migration, or a new phase of "the Big Sort," however, actual migration numbers show the contrary.

It has been well documented that Americans are increasingly moving to red states in the last decade, and the reasons for this phenomenon are as varied as the kinds of people taking this leap. Red states such as Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and South and North Carolina are some of the fastest-growing states, and they have seen an even greater increase since the pandemic. For many, the lower average income tax, fewer business restrictions, the prospect of a better job, and lower home prices are good enough reasons to leave blue states for conservative-lead southern states. What is tricky about this trade-off is that most of the economic growth within these red states is happening inside their largest cities, which often are liberal-leaning or majority-blue (Miami, Austin, Nashville, Tampa, and Phoenix, for example). So far, only a few years post-pandemic, the balance between these cities and their respective states still seems to work. However, as state-level policies become harsher and targeted against women, we might see an impending shift.

With quintessential American liberal cities (Which also happen to be some of the most expensive) like New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco seeing a decline in new residents, it is important to consider; maybe we're all just looking for the places where we can make our money last. And although lower taxes are an incentive, a significant decrease in the cost of living and better weather are huge factors for families and young professionals on the move, for example "people who move out of New York state typically save 15 times more from lower housing costs than from tax savings." according to an analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute. With this in mind, and assuming that a portion of those moving from blue states to red states is registered democrats who have a history of voting blue, there is a possibility that a few more years of this migratory trend could mean that there will be balancing in the political arena of these states, making them, effectively "purple."

Although this hypothesis could be too optimistic, I'd like to believe that some of the people deciding to move to states where they can potentially be targeted or denied care because of their gender or gender identity are looking to set roots and possibly fight the system, or at least pose some resistance. However, when the consequences could be life-threatening, such as the denial of an abortion, or gender-affirming care, not everyone can afford to fight the cultural and political war against their state representatives. To what extent can these states continue to lure in educated, liberal women interested in the economic perks when their essential freedoms are at risk? It is too early to tell, but the next elections might give us a hint.