Like Minnesota, Illinois is hoping to reverse its population outflow by touting ‘progressive’ social policy

Illinois has long been a byword for bad governance and Illinoisans have been getting out in huge numbers: in 2021-2022, the state lost 141,656 residents to other parts of the United States. Indeed, Illinois is such a mess that it is the single biggest domestic source of migrants to Minnesota.

Minnesota’s DFL leadership is aiming to halt the exodus of residents by touting its “progressive” social policies, such as abortion up to birth and sex changes for minors. The idea is that sufficiently “progressive” social policies will attract more residents to the state than its “progressive” economic policies, such as high taxes, drive out.

Illinois is pursuing the same strategy. Bloomberg reported in May:

With abortion banned almost completely in 14 states, many jurisdictions where abortion is still legal are looking to become abortion “sanctuaries” by strengthening protections and affirming reproductive rights.

In 2022, Illinois received an estimated 10,000 out-of-state abortion patients, a number that was already up nearly 30% from the year before. Since the Supreme Court struck down federal abortion protections last June, the demand for care among non-residents has risen, state officials say. Planned Parenthood of Illinois reported that six months after the decision, about a third of the patients they saw were from other states.

“The message that is being sent to women in these other states is one of secrecy, shame and intolerance,” said [Rep. Ann] Williams. “Illinois is really becoming a safe haven, and we want to make sure it stays that way.”

While there is a lot of research showing that “progressive” economic policies push people out of states, there is much less on whether “progressive” social policies attract people to states, certainly in numbers large enough to reverse the exoduses states like Minnesota and Illinois are currently experiencing. This will be a fascinating policy experiment.