Volume 29 - Article 28 | Pages 767–796

Putting on the moves: Individual, household, and community-level determinants of residential mobility in Canada

By Ravi Pendakur, Nathan Young

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Date received:19 Feb 2013
Date published:10 Oct 2013
Word count:5846
Keywords:Canada, development, diversity, internal migration, residential mobility, urbanization


Background: Internal residential mobility is an important contributor to economic vitality, helping to address gaps in the labour market, assisting regions to develop comparative advantages, and encouraging the circulation of skills, capital, and networks within a country. Mobility is, however, a complex sociological phenomenon influenced by individual, household, and community-level variables.

Objective: This article examines the combined impact of individual, household, and community characteristics on both short- and long-distance residential mobility in Canada. The study is motivated by a broader concern with economic development and community vitality, particularly in smaller towns and cities that have recently struggled to attract newcomers.

Methods: A series of multilevel random intercept regression models are run on Canadian census data from 2006. Canada-wide findings are compared to those for five sizes of community - from small towns with fewer than 10,000 people to major metropolitan cities.

Results: Despite the continued growth of major metropolitan areas, city size is not an attractor in and of itself. Rather, one of the most powerful draws for both small towns and large cities is the diversity of the existing population, as measured by the proportion of residents who are immigrants and/or visible minorities.

Conclusions: These findings challenge some long-held stereotypes about rural living, and suggest that rural development strategies ought to include measures for enhancing diversity as a means of attracting all types of internal migrants to small towns and cities.

Author's Affiliation

Ravi Pendakur - Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy [Email]
Nathan Young - University of Ottawa, Canada [Email]

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