Something remarkable is happening in these disunited states: a rapid rearrangement of population of the kind not seen for decades. This internal migratory surge, however, may not be as benign as some earlier ones. It is fueled less by geographic factors—the availability of fertile land or the appeal of a milder climate—than by political considerations.

It reflects, in part, the fact that people are voting with their feet and fleeing jurisdictions that limit their economic and social well-being or fail to respect their property rights in favor of places where these priorities are better served. While this may be viewed as necessary and, in some sense, desirable, there’s reason for worry about both its short-term costs and long-term consequences.

Let’s first understand the data. Since the 2020 census, the U.S. population has grown by only about 0.5 percent. But it has shifted dramatically among the states. California and New York each lost more than half a million residents between the last official count and the latest estimate; Texas gained almost 900,000, and Florida more than 700,000. Many pundits have noted that the first two states are deep blue and high tax while the latter are red and do not levy state income taxes.