Internal migration age patterns and the life-course: continuity and change,1970-2000

Aude Bernard, University of Queensland
Martin Bell, University of Queensland
Elin Charles-Edwards, University of Queensland

Migration is an age-selective process, young adults being the most mobile group. The propensity to migrate typically peaks at young adult ages and then declines steadily with increasing age (Rogers and Castro 1981). Underpinning these regularities is a collection of life-course transitions which often trigger a change of residence (Mulder 1993). Evidence suggests that migration age patterns are broadly stable over time (Rogers and Rajbhamdary 1997), although an increase in the age at which migration peaks has been observed in Australia (Brown et al. 2006), Canada, Japan and Sweden (Ishikawa 2001). This work, however, has been so far confined to a small number of industrialised nations and has not established the drivers of shifts in migration age patterns. This paper aims (1) to establish the extent and direction of shifts in the age profile of migration across a global sample of countries over an extended timeframe, and (2) to explore the extent to which changes in the structure of the life-course have influenced directions and trends in migration ages. To that end, we use age at peak migration and migration intensity at the peak to summarise the age profile of migration (Bernard et al. forthcoming), and the prevalence, timing and spread of transitions to adulthood to gauge the structure of the life-course (Modell et al. 1976; Billari and Wilson 2001). By examining the relationship between migration age profiles and life-course transitions over time and across 12 countries in Asia, Europe, Oceania, North and South America, we aim to provide a deeper understanding of the determinants of migration age patterns. In particular, we aim to establish whether countries converge on similar age patterns of migration as they experience delayed transitions to adult roles, and the extent to which cultural and social forces maintain cross-national differences in profile shapes and trajectories.

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Presented in Session 17: Internal migration and urbanization