Volume 36 - Article 35 | Pages 1015–1038 Author has provided data and code for replicating results

Examining the influence of major life events as drivers of residential mobility and neighbourhood transitions

By Timothy Morris

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Date received:17 Oct 2016
Date published:30 Mar 2017
Word count:5848
Keywords:Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), birth cohorts, event history analysis, life course analysis, life events, migration, residential mobility
Additional files:readme.36-35 (text file, 959 Byte)
 demographic-research.36-35 (zip file, 2 kB)


Background: Residential mobility and internal migration have long been key foci of research across a range of disciplines. However, the analytical strategies adopted in many studies are unable to unpick the drivers of mobility in sufficient detail because of two issues prevalent within the literature: a lack of detailed information on the individual context of people’s lives and a failure to apply longitudinal methods.

Methods: Using detailed data from a UK birth cohort study, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), and a multilevel recurrent-event history analysis approach, this paper overcomes these two major limitations and presents a number of findings.

Results: Most life events increase the likelihood of moving, even though there is little evidence that they precede upwards or downwards mobility into more or less deprived neighbourhoods. The findings also suggest that families living in poor homes and neighbourhoods are more likely to be stuck in place following certain negative life events than those in good environments.

Conclusions: While broad demographic and socioeconomic characteristics reliably account for mobility patterns, the occurrence of life events and a person’s attitudes towards their living environment are necessary for a full understanding of mobility patterns. Future studies should strive to account for such detailed data.

Contribution: We demonstrate the important impact that a wide range of life events has on the mobility of families and provide evidence that studies unable to account for major life events likely do not suffer strong bias results through unobserved confounding.

Author's Affiliation

Timothy Morris - University of Bristol, United Kingdom [Email]

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