Dallas vs. Houston: What Do Migration Numbers Tell Us About Which City Is Superior?

In the comments to the post about today’s Houston vs. Dallas radio appearance by Tim, frequent commenter RAB wonders what the migration numbers between the two cities might suggest about which Texas city is greatest. So I decided to look.

Thankfully the Urban Institute did most of the work for me just last year. They published a nifty interactive map displaying information about the migration between U.S. metropolitan areas from 2004-2010. The data comes from address changes reported to the IRS, so it would seem that tax dodgers remain unaccounted for. You can see the info for Dallas and Houston here:


The percentages are of the total number of households that migrated to or from the metropolitan area. As you might have guessed, folks most often are coming and going between the other major cities of Texas, though I do wonder what we should make of Los Angeles’ No. 2 spot on Dallas’ inflow list.

During this period, 4.66% of those who abandoned Dallas moved to Houston, while 5.92% of former Houstonians moved away to Dallas. That’s a difference of 1.26%. Therefore, Dallas is more popular in Houston than Houston is in Dallas.

Dallas wins.*

 *(Yes, I realize it’s not actually that simple, but just go with it. We came out on top.)


  • RAB

    Thanks, Jason, but you were a bit off on the magnitude of the difference. If someone’s market share in an industry goes from 2% to 3%, they’ve realized a giant increase of 50% (even though it’s only a one percentage point difference).

    Here, the 1.26 percentage point difference equates to a 27.7% larger outflow from Houston to Dallas. In other words, Dallas wins big.

  • tested

    There is no objective way for someone from either Dallas or Houston to judge this issue. Find someone from Lubbock or El Paso who has never lived in either place and doesn’t have much connection to either place.

    My view (biased because Dallas is home) is that Tim hit the nail on the head when he talked about why the TV show was based here instead of there. It explains it better than almost anything else.