Society & Culture

UGA research shows how retirees strengthen Georgia’s economy

Jeff Humphreys

Athens, Ga. – The State of Georgia can bolster its economy by attracting more retirees, according to research from the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.

The state’s warm weather, natural amenities and an inviting tax structure make Georgia an ideal place for retirees, who in return bring money, jobs and economic security, said Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center.

“Demographic and economic trends are coming together to create an unprecedented opportunity in U.S. economic history for retiree-based economic development. The retirement of the baby boomers is a very strong demographic trend that is virtually locked in until approximately 2028,” he said. “A lot of leading-edge boomers who have been locked into their current homes by the housing bust are beginning to move as the ice thaws in the nation’s housing markets. That’s happening right now.”

In recent years, Georgia has attracted, on average, 16,000 retirees per year who have brought with them a net worth of $8 billion and created approximately 28,800 jobs.

For every 1.8 retirees who migrate to Georgia, one job is generated to cater to them. For every 100 retirees, 55 jobs are created. The jobs tend to be in hospitals, home construction, food and beverage services, doctor’s offices and real estate, but the multiplier effect ripples throughout the economy.

“Retirees make rural areas less vulnerable to the ups and downs of commodity markets and less exposed to global competition,” Humphreys said. “Relative to people with jobs, in-migrating retirees have steady incomes that are not dependent on local economic conditions. So retirees’ pension, investment and Social Security incomes can help cushion layoffs or reductions in hours worked.”

To find this data, Humphreys analyzed state and county-level data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau from 2007-2011. He found that most of Georgia’s retirees migrate from other states. Florida provides the most Georgia retirees, but New York is second, and many come from the upper Midwest.

“Georgia has a good balance of trade among the states when it comes to retiree migration. Our most efficient retiree migration exchanges are primarily with states in the Northeast and Midwest. The most favorable balances of trade in terms of migrating retirees’ incomes are with New York, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Michigan,” Humphreys said. “We need to focus on those states. On average, retirees who move here have lower incomes than retirees who leave the state. But Georgia still has an extremely favorable balance of trade when it comes to migrating retirees’ income.”

About the Selig Center
Created to convey economic expertise to Georgia businesses and entrepreneurs, the Simon S. Selig, Jr. Center for Economic Growth is primarily responsible for conducting research on economic, demographic, and social issues related to Georgia’s current and future growth. The Selig Center also publishes the college’s annual “Georgia Economic Outlook” forecast and produces commissioned studies for the state and the private sector. For more information, see

The Terry College
The Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia is consistently ranked among the top in the nation. Its faculty are committed to high-quality research and instruction, preparing students at every level for the global business community. Terry offers undergraduate business (BBA, AB-Econ), full-time MBA, professional MBA, executive MBA, master of accountancy, master of marketing research, online master of Internet technology, Ph.D. and executive programs. It is also home to the Selig Center for Economic Growth. For more information, see