Restructuring and Well-Being in the Non-Metropolitan Pacific Northwest

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Abstract

This paper shows how social and economic change impact well-being in Pacific Northwest counties from 1970–1990. Economic and social well-being, measured as income growth and low income inequality, are modeled using net migration data and measures of social and economic restructuring. In the 1970s there is an inverse relationship between population growth and income growth, while during both decades the retail sector contributes to income growth. Amenity or urban-adjacent counties show the most growth, in both population and employment, but also have the greatest income inequality. Several factors contributing to income growth also contribute to greater income inequality. Migration flows for each decade also illustrate the associations between restructuring, well-being, and population growth. Populations in counties with net out-migration over both decades are aging, but show greater income growth and lower inequality in the 1970s followed by lower income growth in the 1980s. Net in-migration over both decades is associated with lower income growth and greater inequality in the 1970s, but these counties are substantially better off economically in the 1980s and they maintain a balanced age structure through migration of different age cohorts over the two decades. This research provides needed work on the connections between social and economic change in the context of the Pacific Northwest.

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