According to a Gallup survey, people in Oregon are relatively happy where they are. The polling organization asked people whether they’d move to another state if given the chance, and only 24 percent of Oregonians said yes. A likely explanation is that most Oregonians are here by choice.

People are less likely to say they want to move in only three states — Montana, Hawaii and Maine, where 23 percent said they’d leave if they could. At 24 percent, Oregon is tied for second place with Texas and New Hampshire. In Connecticut (49 percent) and Illinois (50 percent), just about half the people wish they could live somewhere else.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45.5 percent of people living in Oregon in 2010 were born in the state, a lower percentage than all but eight other states and the District of Columbia. All but one of the 10 states where people are most eager to leave have higher percentages of native-born residents — 67.1 percent in Illinois, for example. The exception is Nevada, where 43 percent said they’d move if they could but only 24.3 percent were born in the state. But Nevada is an outlier in more ways than one.

The correlation between mobility and contentment is no surprise. People’s most common reasons for moving are related to jobs or businesses — they’re attracted by opportunities, or forced to leave because of a lack of them. A state with a low percentage of native-born residents can be presumed to have a lot of people who believe they have improved their lives by moving. Others — retirees, for instance — arrive by choice, drawn by a state’s climate, scenery, culture or cost of living, and will continue to value the attributes they sought.

A state with a high percentage of people who aren’t interested in leaving has an asset. These are people who will work to protect the qualities they appreciate, rather than seeking to leave them behind. That means they’re more likely to be engaged in public affairs, protective of the environment and concerned about their state’s future. Oregon is fortunate in having relatively few people who wish they were somewhere else.

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