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March 18, 2008

« X Factor | Main | MIA - Don't Leave Home Without It... »

With "Who's Your City?" due any day now, this seems most appropriate.

So, a colleague asks:

I'm working on my dissertation proposal and I'm thinking about what brings people to places versus what happens once they are there.

My work will focus on this latter part, not on the "moving" part. It's always hard to have large scale data on "moving decisions", you know.

But I was thiking: how many people actually move in or out a city every year? Do you have at hand average numbers about this mobility?

Even rough estimates? I'd be very very curious to see them.

My point is: we are always so obsessed by what "moves" people to one place to another, but after all most people (don't look at us!) never even leave or if they do, they do very few times in a lifetime. Isn't that the case?

Response after break.

My response:

Between 2005 & 2006 of the overall US population: (1 year)
        16.2% Moved (to a different House)
        9.9% Moved in the same county
        6.3% Moved to a different county
                3.6% Moved to a different county in the same state
                2.7% Moved to a different State
        0.6% Moved abroad

Between 1995 and 2000 of the overall US population: (5 years)
        43% Moved (to a different house)
        25% Moved in the same county
        18.1% Moved to a different county
                9.7% Moved to a different county in the same state
                8.4% Moved to a different state
        2.9% Moved "elsewhere" -- abroad

So, the number moving over the 5 year period is not 5 times the number moving in a one-year period.  It's actually around 2.5 to 3 times.  But, that could be partly from people moving multiple times in the 5 year period.  It also could be a memory issue, or I'm sure there are other possible explanations.

However, the US population is looking fairly mobile.

Richard adds:

The young and the educated are most likely to move, so one needs to look at this by demographic group. Schumpeter long ago distingushed between the adaptive and creative response. He said social scientists are obsessed with the adaptive. That's the typical. What's important is the creative response.

In my view geographic mobility is key to economic mobility for the individual and innovation and economic growth for societies. The key is who moves :-)   My hunch is that it is the most skilled and entrepreneurial and that is why the effect significantly outweighs the numbers. Mobility rates may also shed light on regional and national growth.

posted by Kevin Stolarick

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