Study casts doubt on increased mobility among US population

February 10, 2005

A great deal of public policy advocacy has been influenced by the notion that the United States is becoming an "increasingly mobile society" - that the population is changing residence at increasing levels. However, a new study provides empirical evidence in favor of an opposite trend.

In fact, overall mobility has generally declined since about 1950, and interstate mobility has generally not increased during the same period. The data supporting this is reported in the February 2005 issue of The Gerontologist (Vol. 45, No. 1).

Authors Douglas A. Wolf of Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Charles F. Longino, Jr. of Wake Forest University sought to disprove the widespread belief that citizens are moving apart from their families in greater numbers. They were primarily concerned with predictions that older Americans separated from their adult children would place a significant burden on caregiving services for aged persons.

Their information shows that short-distance mobility rates have declined substantially over the last 50 years, whereas long-distance moves have declined less sharply or have even remained relatively unchanged.
-end-
The Gerontologist is a refereed publication of The Gerontological Society of America, the national organization of professionals in the field of aging.

The article abstract is available online at http://gerontologist.gerontologyjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/45/1/5.

The Gerontological Society of America

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