Volume 38 - Article 7 | Pages 169–196

The role of residential mobility in reproducing socioeconomic stratification during the transition to adulthood

By Anne Clark

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:16 Aug 2017
Date published:12 Jan 2018
Word count:6305
Keywords:life events, residential mobility, socioeconomic stratification, transition to adulthood


Objective: This study assesses whether frequency of residential mobility plays a role in the reproduction of socioeconomic inequality during the transition to adulthood based on two criteria: (1) selection – is there socioeconomic sorting into residential trajectories? – and (2) lack of moderation – is this sorting irreducible to other life events that prompt moves (e.g., changes in employment status)?

Methods: I use two and a half years of monthly address data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life data set, a sample of 18- and 19-year-old young women in a Michigan county. As an improvement upon previous measures of residential mobility, I use group-based trajectory analysis to categorize young women into residential trajectory groups. I then conduct a series of nested logistic regressions to predict membership in residential trajectory groups and a decomposition analysis to determine whether rapid movers are exposed to more life events (e.g., entering/exiting employment) or are simply more sensitive to moving in the face of life events compared to gradual movers.

Results: Rapid moving is associated with low socioeconomic status. Rapid movers experience similar family formation, employment, and academic changes as gradual movers but are more likely to move when faced with these life events.

Conclusions: High residential mobility is a phenomenon among early home-leavers as part of an accelerated and underfunded transition to adulthood rather than a reflection of the upward socioeconomic mobility of college students.

Contribution: High residential mobility is not simply a neutral or normative aspect of the transition to adulthood but rather part of the process of reproducing socioeconomic stratification.

Author's Affiliation

Anne Clark - University of Michigan, United States of America [Email]

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Examining the influence of major life events as drivers of residential mobility and neighbourhood transitions
Volume 36 - Article 35    | Keywords: life events, residential mobility

» Solo living in the process of transitioning to adulthood in Europe: The role of socioeconomic background
Volume 48 - Article 3    | Keywords: transition to adulthood

» Who moves out and who keeps the home? Short-term and medium-term mobility consequences of grey divorce in Belgium
Volume 45 - Article 9    | Keywords: residential mobility

» A potential new pattern of pathway to adulthood is emerging in China
Volume 44 - Article 42    | Keywords: transition to adulthood

» Gendered intergenerational time transfers in Estonia
Volume 44 - Article 34    | Keywords: transition to adulthood


»Volume 38





Similar Articles



Jump to Article

Volume Page
Volume Article ID