The Energy Link: Energy Producing States and Social Mobility
On this blog, we have previously explored the apparent links between energy production and economic growth, rising incomes and lower unemployment rates. With the caveat, of course, that we’re merely dealing with simple correlations and are not necessarily demonstrating causality, there could be another link between energy development and social mobility.
A couple years ago, scholars from Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley tried to determine which regions around the country offered higher rates of youth mobility for children born to parents with low-incomes. Interestingly, the greatest areas for mobility are the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Many states in this region – North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Colorado, for example – have long welcomed energy development within their borders and have embraced the recent advances in mining and drilling technologies that led to the mid-2010s nationwide energy boom.
When the above map is compared to one showing the various oil and gas producing shale plays across the country, it’s hard not to notice the commonalities. Even areas in West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania that lie atop the Marcellus shale play appear to offer more mobility than adjacent regions. This data may suggest that energy development doesn’t just boost economic development or individual income, but may also help with economic and social mobility.