d66rflbvvekyrhafbifjdwGallup made headlines this week by ranking states based on how many of their residents want to move away. Massachusetts’ residents had the 8th itchiest feet, with 41 percent saying they would leave the Bay State. That number is considerably higher than what we have seen when we asked similar questions in our own polling. We wondered, why the difference?

The Gallup poll on which these numbers are based asked:

“Regardless of whether you will move, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?” 

The question doesn’t give an option for moving within one’s own state. So one possible explanation for the high Massachusetts number is that Gallup is capturing people who simply want to express a desire to move, but would consider moving with Massachusetts. It is also possible that where the question was placed within the survey drove numbers higher than they would have been otherwise, but we can’t know this for sure without seeing the full questionnaire.

We asked a related question to residents across the Commonwealth in both 2003 and 2011. We first asked whether a respondent would move anywhere, and then followed up with a question regarding where they might like to move. In these surveys, 34 and 28 percent said they would to move somewhere other than their current community. But 7 or 8 percent who said they would move somewhere inside Massachusetts, meaning just 21 to 26 percent would leave Massachusetts if given the chance.  This still feels like a high number, but it is far lower than what Gallup reported.leave

This year, our survey including this question went only to registered voters, so the comparison is not perfect. Nonetheless, just 17 percent of registered voters said they would be interested in living in another state. The full survey covered various education-related issues, and will be released in full in the weeks to come.