Mass. Migration: An Analysis of Outmigration from Massachusetts Over the Last Two Decades

Blog post by Peter Ciurczak
April 4, 2024

Boston Indicators   (Boston)

The population of Massachusetts has increased over the past couple of decades. But this overall expansion has masked a trend of growing concern: the accelerating outmigration of longstanding residents to other parts of the country. Were it not for offsetting growth from international migration, we’d have been losing population for years. In fact, we’ve recently seen domestic outmigration outpace international in-migration, and our overall population shrank in 2021 and 2022 for the first time in years.

Population changes are more than just numbers. When growth slows and people leave, we all lose out. We lose political power—as we did during redistricting in 2012, where Massachusetts lost a U.S. House district. We can lose economically, as fewer businesses and jobs are created leading to tax revenue shortfalls needed to support Massachusetts’ robust safety net and other services. And we can lose part of our identity, as those who leave take with them ideas and culture contributions that might have found a home here.

So, to understand better the changing population of Massachusetts, this brief looks at some of the trends driving this change, from births and deaths to a focus on domestic migration to and from the state.