The Life Course Matters for Moving, and It’s Not Just Age: Life Course Events as Triggers for Migration in the Transition to Adulthood

Jonathan Horowitz , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Barbara Entwisle, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Do life course events trigger moves during the transition to adulthood? To answer this question, we identify eight specific life events in both family and education/employment domains and test its effect on mobility across different geographic scales. Using fixed effects models that remove the influence of all stable individual-level characteristics and of age, the overall effects for most triggers are strongest on moves across county and across state lines. Marriage, graduations, and employment transitions have substantively large effects on the probability of moving in a seven-month time window, and these effects are relatively consistent across different geographic units. In contrast, births only increase the likelihood of short-distance, anticipatory moves, and the effects of divorce are inconsistent across geographic scales. These findings demonstrate that it is not possible to understand migration without attention to life course events, and that mobility is a key part of the effect of these life course events have on well-being and behavior.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization