CHANGES IN SELECTED SOCIOECONOMIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS IN MISSISSIPPI: IMPACT ON ECONOMIC GROWTH
By Lakisha Carr, Wesley Whittaker, Teddrick Hargrave
Agricultural Economics Program, Department of Agriculture, Alcorn State University
Economic growth can be defined as the process whereby the real per capita income or per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of a country or region increases over a period of time –subject to the stipulations that the number of people below the “absolute poverty line” does not increase, and that the distribution of income does not become more unequal. This study assesses the impact of selected socio-economic and demographic factors on economic growth in Mississippi. As economic growth is a precursor to economic development, identification of such factors is important in order to be able to provide policy guidance that can promote economic development. Regression and other techniques were used to analyze data. The results indicate that of the five independent variables, three were statistically significant and also had the hypothesized relationships with the dependent variable. These are migration, unemployment and the level of poverty.
As the rate of poverty increases, the number of gainfully employed people that are able to contribute to real GDP decline, thus, constraining economic growth. The high unemployment rates evident in various regions of the state are an obvious sign that the business environment is fragile. A weak business environment is a major symbol of impaired economic growth and conditions. The statistical significance of migration is indicative that it causes a depletion of intellectual and technical personnel which overtime, negatively affects economic growth.
The principal hypothesis of the study which asserted that economic growth in Mississippi is influenced by certain social, economic and demographic factors was supported by the findings.
This conclusion may have important implications for future economic growth of the state and the development and implementation of policies to improve the quality of life of people and their communities. With migration, poverty and unemployment being statistically significant, it means that if the right policies can be devised by state level officials, local community leaders, and empowered residents’ economic growth can definitely be achieved. There has never been a scarcity of ideas as to how to promote economic growth. The real problem seems to be a shortage of political will to sustain meaningful projects over long periods. Economic growth is a process and can only take place over time. With the right policies, out migration can be reduced, poverty will decline, business development will increase and unemployment rate will decline. The results will be a vibrant and growing Mississippi economy.