Is Texas Our Future?

(Photo: Rachel George)

(Photo: Rachel George)

In last week’s TIME cover story, the prolific Tyler Cowen argues that “Texas Is Our Future”:

So why are more Americans moving to Texas than to any other state? Texas is America’s fastest-growing large state, with three of the top five fastest-growing cities in the country: Austin, Dallas and Houston. In 2012 alone, total migration to Texas from the other 49 states in the Union was 106,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 2000, 1 million more people have moved to Texas from other states than have left.

As an economist and a libertarian, I have become convinced that whether they know it or not, these migrants are being pushed (and pulled) by the major economic forces that are reshaping the American economy as a whole: the hollowing out of the middle class, the increased costs of living in the U.S.’s established population centers and the resulting search by many Americans for a radically cheaper way to live and do business.

The full article is gated, but here’s a good summary of Cowen’s arguments. 

Blue guy in a VERY red state

If you're not moving to one of the major cities, and you need some type of safety net, heaven help you. The State of Texas will kick you to the curb in a heartbeat.


Funny you got a thumbs down because what you wrote is true. Texas is a great place to start companies that thrive on low wage employees, that cost little overhead in the way of local and state taxes which are typically used to create safety nets for low income workers with unstable employment. Nothing wrong with that, but it explains all the migration growth into the state. Its basically lower skilled workers hoping to find ANY job that are moving to Texas.

Besides oil and upper management careers Texas certainly isn't the place for a low to mid level, highly skilled employees in something like software development. California for example has far more favorable tax and legal benefits for start-ups with business plans and products like Riot Games, Facebook etc. I'm not saying one state is better than the other, I'm just pointing out that Texas due to employment laws that do not favor employees and tax codes that encourage industries reliant on low skill labor, naturally attract and recruit the most DESPERATE type of workers with low skill levels. There is a reason why many companies have their headquarters in places like California or Washington. You think Mark Zuckerberg wants to live in Texas, even though it would save him a boatload in overhead and labor costs?



"Texas certainly isn’t the place for a low to mid level, highly skilled employees in something like software development"

Apparently you know nothing about Austin, TX.


I'd love to hear Glaeser's thoughts on this. He does talk about Houston in his book a lot, but I don't remember too much...


A major point that Glaser makes about Houston is that it has no zoning laws. As a result, it has plenty of low-cost housing. However, it is much different than some of the cities Glaser praises. Houston is not necessarily a very high density city, and the knowledge spillovers are not always that great (though there are exceptions: Houston is wonderful for health sector). Unlike Boston, NYC or London, in Houston you have to drive everywhere, which reduces chance encounters.


Last I checked New York and LA had their fair share of folks.


Theory: Texas can afford to be the low-tax state it is because the elderly don't live there. (Lowest percentage 65+ in the nation.)


That's due to the bazillions of Mexicans, legal and illegal, who have 5 kids in nothing flat. That is dragging down the average age, with little benefit therefrom!

Brian Kelsey

Perhaps a more nuanced viewpoint is in order. Texas ranks very well in traditional measures of economic development (e.g., jobs, private investment) but is underperforming other states in many aspects of wealth creation, unemployment, and workforce readiness. Further, inequality gets barely a mention among the rampant boosterism. Here's a link to a presentation I gave earlier this month at our statewide economic development conference:

Voice of Reason

I think that it's presumptuous and biased to talk about equality like it's the ultimate goal, and any inequality is a problem that must be stamped out before all others. People should be more concerned about the opportunities that are presented for all people, rather than spending all of your time worrying about what the Jones' have, and why you can't have it.

Remember, Adam Smith said that equality was far less important than personal freedom, and that inequality was actually an important market force in itself. Why strive to be the best when even when you win the tournament, you're back where you started?


As a newly minted Texan I can tell you that good government, weather, and citizens who take pride in their home state are what attracted me. Also, of course, two of my children and their families who live here and love it. Thanks to all the Texans who have greeted me so warmly!

Ron Zu

Texas has no State income tax, but it has high property taxes, and a sales tax in some areas that is close to 9%.


As long as Oil & Gas is strong, Texas will remain an attractive place to live and work. As the oil runs dry, or alternative energy sources become more feasible, Texas star will begin to fade. I love Texas, but we're based on oil and gas. As much as our diarrhea of the mouth politicians tout our economy and "job creation," if it were not for a lot of dead dinosaurs under our borders, we would not have the sort of growth we're enjoying today.

Caleb B

1) no state income tax
2) cheaper housing costs = cheaper employees
3) mild winters
4) favorable business laws
5) really pretty women

Pretty much explains it all.


Are there any states like Texas, in regards to the points made in the article, but with mountains and snow?

That Guy

I think that this is why it is so important to have strong state's rights and limited federal government. Politicians will inevitably cave into poor voters who come out in masses and want handouts. Rich voters and corporations should not be held hostage by illogical, nonproduction, and dangerous policies put into place to buy votes. Ergo, they should be allowed to shop around and go to places that offer competitive tax rates and policies, almost on a free market basis. Sure, you can leave the country, that that's a lot more messy and inconvenient for them, and when they do, America just lost their business and tax base.

john hermann

Before you run to Texas, you may want to know why many long term residents are making plans to leave. 1. WATER . Texas is brush country and is critically dependent on water derivedfrom a series of underground àquafers which has a finite amount of water . It only takes ashort Drought to cause severe water restrictions. Without greena spaces andwith abundant parks , homeowners resort to creating their own green space further stressing the water supply.
2. Overcrowding without urban plannin
City governments are so excited by the growth that there appeas to be little consideration given to the lack of roads, schools and other necessaty services to support the rowth. If a piece of land doesnt sell for single family homes then developers build a large multifamily Structure. The Quailty of Texas life is quickly eroding and seems to now mirror other large overcrowded urban centers.