A new report has examined migration within the United States and the roles played by education, skills, and spacial inequality.
The report by Chandra Muller of the University of Texas – Austin, called “Migration within the US: Education, Skills and Spatial Inequality,” takes information from the High School and Beyond 1980 sophomore cohort as well as its 2014 midlife follow-up in order to determine whether people with higher education levels and greater skill levels are more likely to move to live closer to other educated workers in the middle of their lives. Study authors looked at how far those that were willing to move went, suggesting that a patterned mobility could account for the connection between education and the increase of spacial inequality found over the past 4o years.
Findings suggest that those who hold higher cognitive skills, are more prepared for college, and have a bachelor’s degree were also more likely to move to areas with higher numbers of educated workers in the middle of their lives. Personality factors influencing who was more likely to move across state lines included an openness to new experiences and cultures, a sense of adventure and attraction to risk, a strong work ethic, and a belief that a person as an individual has the ability to influence the future.
Those with more cognitive skills were not only found to be more likely to cross state lines, but were also more likely to migrate farther and enter areas where their skills were in high demand and higher than the resident population.
Schools were found to have influence over these decisions as they played a role in developing cognitive or non-cognitive skills for work or continuing post-secondary education. According to the data, students who took academic courses in place of vocational were more likely to move away from their hometown even if they did not attend college.
Other factors of migration include age and life course stage, race and ethnicity, and family. In general, those who are younger in age are more likely to move because the cost of moving is fairly low with high benefits involved due to longer periods of future earnings in addition to the potential for a rise in both earnings and career positions.
The authors go on to suggest that once families are formed and strong community ties built, individuals are less likely to move. Home ownership can also lessen a person’s drive to move. In addition, even if the earnings of the entire household increases as the result of a move, married women often find themselves experiencing a decline in earnings if they move for non-job related reasons.
In addition, the authors say that individuals who grew up in families with higher income levels and more educated parents were also found to be more likely to move. However, they suggest that these families were also more likely to move as their children were young and continue to do so when their children became adults, suggesting weak ties to any one geographic area.