The Role of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Internal Migration Decline

Christine Leibbrand , University of Washington, Seattle

Since 1980, internal migration rates within the U.S. have declined precipitously. Given the importance of migration for exposing individuals to economic and social opportunities, this decline is concerning. However, we have relatively little knowledge about how race/ethnicity and gender have structured declines in migration propensities and/or changes in the returns to migration over time. In this study, I utilize restricted, geocoded National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) data and harmonize these data for the 1979 and 1997 cohorts in order to explore these relationships. I find that migration propensities have declined the most for black women and men and that the returns to migration have likewise declined more substantially for black women and men relative to other demographic groups. These findings are problematic, suggesting that internal migration, historically an important avenue for improving outcomes among blacks, may be a less viable means of reducing racial disparities in outcomes over time.

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 Presented in Session 241. Migration, Inequality, and Social Mobility