Elbow Room

According to the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, a conservative think-tank, the state population experienced a modest decline last year–just over three thousand residents. Louisiana experienced an even greater decline, while all our other neighbors saw population increases. The article linked goes on to suggest that blame for the decline may be traced to high local tax rates, which are 0.49% above the national average, and well below that of our neighbors.

I’m curious: do you find cause for concern regarding the emigration of people from Mississippi? Also, what do you see as the underlying causes? How can they be remedied?

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27 Responses to Elbow Room

  1. Ayden Dusek says:

    There definitely is a concern regarding the emigration of people from Mississippi, but this would most likely result in a harder time for the people that choose to stay, as the taxes may rise, due to decreased population. The underlying cause would most likely be the increase in taxes. A remedy could possibly be to “crack down” on traffic violations, such as speeding, expired car tags, and driving a trailer without tailights. This would most likely alleviate the problem of taxes, but still give the state government the money that it needs.

  2. KT says:

    I don’t know that a decline in population is a cause for worry. Our gets a pretty rep in terms of ignorance, obesity, etc. It ranks #49 out of the fifty states, only beating Louisiana. As well, Mississippi also has the lowest cost of living out of all fifty states, so I’m unsure that just taxes are to blame for the emigration. I think that we need to improve the overall quality of our state, and then, if emigration is still a “problem,” try and fix other possible factors.


  3. Samuel Patterson III says:

    I’ll take a crack at this one.

    The Mississippi brain drain is very concerning. I am from a community that has suffered heavily from the “modest” population decline. Greenville has lost nearly 40 percent of its population since 1990. There is nothing “modest” about that. Greenville once manufactured everything from brand named clothes to carpets to bricks, all gone now. The story of my hometown is not unique, though, it is true for communities all over the state. What can we do to fix this? Fully fund education and infrastructure. Simple as that. You cannot expect reputable companies to set up shop and grow in a state that doesn’t value its own people enough to adequately educate them. Further, you can’t expect them to come here when we have a laughable transportation system, riddled with potholes and bridge closures. Who’s to blame? State leaders, from both parties. These leaders have done a poor job investing in the state and its people. This state is well overdue for fresh leaders with new and effective ideas. Otherwise, Mississippi will continue to “modestly” rot away.

  4. Kerrigan A Clark says:

    I honestly don’t find cause for concern regarding the population drop. As high local tax rates are a problem, I don’t think that it would result in a 3000 resident decline. If anything, the decline would be due to people finding more job opportunities in the states surrounding us or college students leaving for college out of state, finding a job, and then making their home there. But no I don’t think we should be concerned about the population drop because there is always going to be an influx of people in and out of states and 3000 people aren’t enough to shake up the economy of Mississippi to its core.

  5. Alyssa says:

    I don’t think that high taxes is the real issue behind people leaving Mississippi. It might just be a minor problem among many. Many people native to here that lead successful lives often leave and never look behind. There just are not enough opportunities here for everyone. The thing that people often forget to take into account is that people are less focused on the tradition of making a family at an early age, and more focused on making a career and reaching the goals. Even when people do become parents young, they want to give their child a better life than they felt they had and sometimes that doesn’t include Mississippi. So we should be less concerned about this problem because that would just mean that the cycle of poverty would continue. Now more than ever, people are able to live and afford their dreams. Mississippi should catch up with the times, get more attractions and such to encourage people to come and stay here.

  6. N says:

    There are more opportunities outside of Mississippi for the younger generations — better educational and career opportunities. Mississippi’s long history of being a strong red state may have influence. I do not speak for everyone, but a vast majority of liberals are desperate to leave this state, and even the south for that matter. Times are changing , but Mississippi is not. The 3000 people may not have a big effect now, but if change isn’t made, this number will grow.

  7. X says:

    Mississippi has a lack of opportunity for ambitious young adults to develop their skills and reach their full potential. I can see how it might be concerning as people flood to the northeast or west, and there it could get overcrowded. But, I do not personally find it that big of an issue. The south just does not have the allure that other areas do in general, with its regular stereotype of being filled with rednecks and countrymen. The history of the south also explains why people want to emigrate. Mississippi does not have the same opportunities as places like New Jersey do. It is not well funded; the schools, roads, buildings, all are cracked, graffitied, breaking down. Increased funding would solve these issues, but the picture that everyone paints of Mississippi in their minds would be more difficult to change.

  8. Erin says:

    I think there is a concern with people emigrating from Mississippi. When people leave, it gets harder for people who stay. For example, taxes go up because of less people. A reason people could be leaving Mississippi could be because there aren’t many opportunites for people with certian degrees from colleges. A way to remedy this would be to find more chances to open branches of businesses that are not located in Mississippi, like Google or IBM.

  9. Xavier Lucas-Cooper says:

    As of now, I am not concerned about the number of people leaving Mississippi. However, it could become a large problem if it continues in the future. A reason for people living might be state (no pun intended) of Mississippi itself. Mississippi tends to be on the bottom of the list for good things and at the top of the list for bad things. Not to mention its racist history. It may also be because people are becoming more liberal in their political views and they don’t like that Mississippi is a majority conservative state. In my opinion, I do not think there is a suitable remedy that the government can procure.

  10. E. T. says:

    Emigration out of Mississippi is certainly an issue as it pertains to all of us. With an aging population, I suspect many the population decline has two aspects. One, the older generation is moving into the last phase of their life. Secondly, the younger generation is moving away towards the most vigorous part. Statistically, the U.S Census Bureau estimates that 25.3 % of the population will be 60+ by 2030. This is a dramatic 38% increase from 2012. With an aging population, elders are likely moving to assisted living or even nursing homes. This points to less community involvement for the younger generation as fewer business owners, local leaders, and folk progressing forwards. This drives students towards finding better opportunities elsewhere, further increasing the cycle of slowing down. Better education alongside more technology-driven companies is necessary to improve this issue. The future lies in knowledge-work with examples such as Silicon Valley. I do not know the immediate steps towards solving this dilemma, but I firmly wish for a remedy for emigration and our forefathers.

    Source: ttps://acl.gov/sites/default/files/programs/2016-11/Mississippi%20Epi%20Profile%20Final.pdf

  11. Eli Dosda says:

    Well, if people keep leaving then we’ll continue to rank lower in the country. It takes new people to help invigorate policies and reform. Unfortunately, MS has backed itself into a wall, and the only way to get itself out is if it addresses it’s issues instead of running away from them. If MS is to get new people back we need to get some help and change crucial aspects like the education system and our production of innovative tech.

  12. Linda Arnoldus says:

    From my perspective, Mississippi’s population decrease is due primarily to the “Brain Drain.” In my experience with MSMS students, those who can get out of Mississippi will. Smart people move out of Mississippi because of a lack of opportunities, which creates an endless cycle because they are the ones who can help pull Mississippi out of the loop. This problem is because of more than just lack of educational opportunities though- it’s tied to poverty, Mississippi’s reliance on agriculture, etc. I personally think that funding good education in Mississippi and kick us out of the loop, because people might travel into MS from out of state, like some do for MSU, Ole Miss, etc.

  13. Ellen Overstreet says:

    Many people in Mississippi decide to leave because they are looking for something better. In fact, I’ve heard a lot of people at this school say they are leaving this state as soon as they can. This is mostly due to the fact that there in problems with Mississippi that most people refuse to fix. Declining population in Mississippi can be a problem because of raised taxes, but also because the people who are itching to leave may also the ones who can fix some of Mississippi’s problems.

  14. JoJo Kaler says:

    I do not think that the reason why Mississippi is losing people is taxes. When talking about populations moving and staying you have to have push and pull factors. Mississippi is not viewed by the rest of the country to be a desirable place to move to. Other than a few decent colleges there is not much pull factors. No kid dreams of growing up one day and moving to Mississippi to make a name for himself. This is not because of our taxes but because of the lack of major urban areas that draw people from the outside in. Lots of people grow up hearing stories of how you can make a name for yourself in LA or New York or hear of the computer industries in Seattle and want to move there. There is no such stories here in Mississippi. The opportunities do not match those that other states have which drives people who can away from the state and doesn’t bring people back into the state to balance it out.

  15. Taylor Shamblin says:

    When it comes to the emigration of Mississippi residents, one cannot just assume that the reason is strictly due to the high tax rate. Though affordability plays a large part of our lives, many people are willing to sacrifice the fiscal advantage of living in a state with a low tax rate. Many who give up this fiscal advantage are usually in love with the culture, scenery, or ¨quaintness¨ of the Ol´ Sip. Most residents of the small towns that blot the map of Mississippi, though, find that they are trapped in this hometown life. I have seen this mentality ensnare many of those who were born, and plan to die, here. Myself being rather different from the general populous of this quaint state, I believe that, even if only for a few years, everyone should leave and if they truly miss the Mississippi Life, come back. So, in essence, I cannot state that the slight population decrease is a problem at all.
    The same way that people can love the environment radiating from all corners of Mississippi, there are those that deject it. Those who find themselves in the hate-it ship, are those who are often given the metaphorical shaft. This shaft can be manifested in a multitude of ways: Mississippi´s lack of cultural acceptance, strenuous education, diverse occupations, proper fiscal appropriation, diversity, and the list may continue. The first three, alone, are enough to drive hundreds of families away from settling or staying in the state.
    There is not really a ¨cure¨ for Mississippi´s shortcomings. The community and government alike would have to band together and sacrifice greatly in order to build a better state, and both parties, from the last decade, have only made minuscule steps in this movement. At that rate, the state will maintain its status, if states had Yelp reviews, of two-out-of-five stars. Great leaps in community and legislation must be enacted in order for the quality of life and enticing aspects to increase.

  16. Nathan Lee says:

    The population decline is definitely an issue as fewer people will hurt the economy of Mississippi as a whole. Along with taxes, I think a variety of issues like poor infrastructure and educational opportunities may factor into people’s decision to leave. Improving funding for education and fixing Mississippi’s generally poor reputation would most likely stop the population decline.

  17. Khytavia Fleming says:

    People are leaving MS because we lack in almost everything. When people think of MS, they think of poor, dumb, behind, etc. MS is one of the cheapest states to live in to other states, but most people wounldn’t dare move to MS because of the lack of opprotunties, unless it benefits them greatly. From a young age, many of us were told to get an education and run as far away from MS as possible. It’s not because we were taught to dislike MS but that MS would never be able to offer us the things in life that other states could.
    However, young people, like us MSMSians, have to stay and build MS up. If we don’t then who will? We continue to talk about how bad MS is while we plan to move to another states without even trying to resolve the issues in our own state. On the other hand, there are some people who just want a different life style. Coming from the Delta, I have beeen dying to live some where different. Not because the Delta is poor or that the educational system is bad, but just the simple fact that I’m tired of looking at acres and acres of crops and flat land.

  18. Bertha Mireles says:

    I am aware of many people who desire to “get the hell out” of Mississippi for a number of reasons. Finding a better education (ex. college), better job offers, or to live in a different region of the United States to experience different people. While visiting the Capitol in Jackson for Capitol Day, a bill was presented that lowered income tax for people who have graduated from any university in the United States and have come to Mississippi to work and live here for 5 years. Obviously people leaving Mississippi has become a big problem since representatives are willing to lower taxes so people can stay. I think it’s just a nonstop cycle of people leaving, therefore less taxes are being paid, therefore government programs and schools become underpaid leading to Mississippi’s decline overall which therefore leads to people leaving. There’s no simple remedy to this, and I frankly do not know of one that won’t be costly or dramatic. It’s going to take a lot of people to come together to make Mississippi a better place so more people can be enticed to stay.

  19. Catherine Li says:

    The brain drain in Mississippi is all too real. Everyone I have ever talked to in Mississippi who wants to achieve a higher education has hopes of getting out of Mississippi. Mississippi is associated with the lesser end of the spectrum such as lowest literacy rates, high obesity rates, etc. It then comes to the question of why would anyone who has the ability to leave stay? In my own opinion, it is a problem because, with that logic, Mississippi can never get better because the only people who can help it are leaving. I plan to leave Mississippi after high school, but I’ve been inspired to come back in the far future and hopefully help out with the education system and much more. Until more people (like a lot) come together and try to change Mississippi for the better such as make better policies and spread knowledge, it will never get better.

  20. Chloe Jackson says:

    I believe Mississippi emigration problem comes from the nation and its own inhabitants’ negative perspective of the state. At times it can be hard to come from a place where outsiders turn their noses up at you based on where you come from(though I love where I come from). To often the nations education on the South stops at the lynching and Civil Rights marches. People do not know us for anything other than hardship. This is what makes places like Washington D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles seem so appealing. Their public perception is ever-growing and masked with opportunities and adventure.
    Members of my generation what to make a difference in world. Although that certainty can be done within the borders of our great state sentiments is not always instilled in our teaching. A lot of us are not aware of the magnitude of our state greatness. We get stuck in lack luster MS studies courses and never get to appreciate our state’s progress.

  21. t says:

    Mississippi has always been known for the negative aspects rather than the positive aspects. The main concern revolves around the “lack of opportunity.” I feel that one’s hometown is what they make of it. All the people who can make a change would rather leave than better the state of their community. Mississippi has potential to do better, but there is no motivation for the people. There are certain programs that try to retain the needed individuals such as teachers and physicians. The Rural Physician Program pay for students to go to medical school, but it requires the individuals to stay in Mississippi for however long their education was paid for. The Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program (MTLR) does the same thing but for teachers instead.

  22. T says:

    I personally don’t see much cause for concern for the increasing Mississippi emigration rates. Compared to most states in the U.S, Mississippi doesn’t have a lot to offer. It’s humid, hot, miserable, and a lot of people consider it to be one of the worst states. While I appreciate Mississippi and the life experiences it has given me, it simply doesn’t have enough opportunity and diversity. Generally, people of this state are only exposed to one type of culture: a basic Southern culture that doesn’t appease the majority of people. There’s very little diversity in Mississippi, which takes a lot away from its appeal. People now want to live in areas that are classified as culturally rich. There’s also not much academic appeal to Mississippi. In fact, it’s considered one of the dumbest states. With the little education Mississippi has compared to other states, it is very difficult for an ambitious person to make something of themselves while still living here. Most of the time, people leave in search of better opportunities. A way to approach this issue would be to institute better sources of education as well as government programs that could help people attain they life they desire.

  23. Sophie Tipton says:

    Let’s face it, in most views, unless you live in Mississippi it is hard to convince someone this is a great place or that they should live here too. Compared to some states, we do not have the highest taxes, but when you look at others that have none or look at the minimum in Louisiana that some cities go up to 10% even, it really makes you question doing your grocery shopping in the next state over. But then when you look at Tennesse that has the highest sales tax in the country on average, why are they not experiencing the decline that Mississippi is? So, maybe the taxes play a small role, but it isn’t a big one. In the end, people are going to go where they want to go. And if our state government wants them to come here and stay here, make it worth the while. Other than that, people do what they want if they can, so moving around is and can be a hard thing to determine.

  24. Bubba says:

    When someone hears of Mississippi, they usually think of negative factors such as the amount of uneducated residents, obesity, and etc. While some people want to help improve its reputation, others do not want to be associated with it. Additionally, no one likes paying taxes, and the tax in Mississippi seems to be rising because of the decline in taxpayers. These are causing people to want to move somewhere else, and it seems to be in a growing cycle. To counter this, more Mississippians should not just leave their hometown and start a new life somewhere else, but to at least give back somehow. This allows Mississippi for a chance to improve rather than staying with its current status and reputation. Small things such as starting recycling programs, or community service events help make everything better. A better environment means a sustainable life, and therefore, maybe people would stop leaving.

  25. Emma Jones says:

    Mississippi is just boring. Nothing interesting or exciting ever seems to happen. Everything looks the same for miles and miles. We seem to have only one culture and one experience. The state as a whole is not very diverse in any way. Our education system is one of the worst in the country. Mississippi doesn’t offer many opportunities or chances to experience different things and grow. Sure taxes may play a role, but it definitely isn’t the only factor. These things are also things that I think will be impossible to remedy until the people that live here change desirably, and then, our state will change in a desirable way, as well.

  26. random says:

    I think people leave Mississippi because of two things: it is a poor state and the people do not accept others no matter orientation as much as other states. Everyone wants to have a good job and although there are good jobs in Mississippi, there are many other states that have better ones. A lot of students leave the state when it is time to go the college because there are better schools in other states. The other reason I think people leave is because people have known this state to be one of those that fought to keep slavery in the US. Although things have definitely changed, compared to other states most of the people of Mississippi have not accepted all types of people regardless of orientation. There should definitely be concern for people leaving Mississippi, especially those who are seeking better jobs. One possible way of getting people to stay is try to make things more equal for everyone, although that would be difficult to do and almost impossible to get everyone to be more accepting.

  27. This is an interesting proposal because my father told me he moved to Mississippi because the tax rates were so low (7%).When my father moved to America when he was 18, he was unfamiliar with the American customs, and the way of life here, but he quickly found out what to do with the help of his friends. My father lived in Kansas during his time here, and then after he graduated, he moved to Mississippi for a job as a network manager, and the lower tax rate here. Personally, I believe that more and more people are leaving Mississippi because they don’t want to stay here; I am talking about college students. I don’t blame them, as I plan to do the same.

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