Here’s something fun to noodle with if you have time. A Jefferson County native was fascinated with this website, How Money Walks, and I agree there’s some interesting stuff there.
The map (flash player required) uses IRS figures to show movement of wealth, as measured by adjusted gross income, from one place to another — broken down by state and metropolitan area. There’s an ideological angle, naturally. It’s meant to show that rich people have walked away from high-tax places like California. I’m not ready to accept the premise entirely. Taxes alone don’t explain decisions to move. Arkansas, with a high income tax rate that has flattened over the years, still manages to be a “growth” state. Louisiana, where no tax break is off the table, was a loser over the time period.
I think you can see some other forces at work in just this one slice above, on Pulaski County. A huge amount of income here moved to suburban counties over the period studied, for a giant net loss. Pulaski did gain a nice chunk of income from people leaving Jefferson County. I don’t believe it was tax rates that put those feet in motion.