The attraction of the city: female rural-urban migration as an investment in a prosperous family

Jan Latten, University of Amsterdam, Statistics Netherlands
Marjolijn Das, Statistics Netherlands

In the Netherlands, as in many other European countries, young women have surpassed young men in educational success. This development is linked with internal migration tendencies. Nowadays, in the main Dutch cities young women often outnumber young men, whereas young men are overrepresented in some of the rural areas (Latten and Kooiman 2011). Migration of young women is often triggered by opportunities for education and work. We hypothesise that in addition, migration could be driven by the search for a suitable partner, since there is a growing shortage of higher educated men in rural areas. For women, both their own education and their partner choice may be investments to optimise their future family’s economic prosperity, and thus investments in their children’s societal chances. In the long run, continued migration of well educated women to urban areas may cause societal problems on a macro level. Regional polarisation may increase, and in rural areas populations could shrink even further, with an increased risk of socially isolated men as can be seen in Germany (Kröhnert and Klingholz 2007). Our study addresses the following research questions: Do rural women who relocated to cities and started a family there have a better economic position in midlife than women who started a family in the more rural areas? What is the contribution of women’s education and labour participation to these differences in prosperity? Is there an additional independent contribution of the education and income of their partners? And what could be attributed to the urban context in which migrated women lead their lives?

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Presented in Poster Session 3