Do modern families migrate less? An analysis of migration, household and employment biographies across three West German birth cohorts

Katarina Lutz, University of Frankfurt
Sergi Vidal, University of Queensland

Over the last few decades developments in the employment and family roles of women have been claimed to be driving forces of declining internal migration rates in contemporary societies. Persuasive micro-economic perspectives predicted that the economic empowerment of wives would prevent long distance migrations of family households. Accordingly, labour market participation increases opportunity costs for wives to unconditionally follow their husbands. Despite a blooming life course literature seeking for micro level foundation to explain social change, to date empirical analysis on the intertwining between migration, employment and family only covered single transitions during short observation periods. Thus, no conclusive empirical proof exists to say female employment trends equate decreasing migration rates holds at the household level. To tackle this gap of knowledge, we look into migration biographies, instead of transitions. We particularly tackle their evolution across birth cohorts facing changes in the way cohort incumbents negotiate their employment and family biographies. To this end, we use retrospective records of partnership, parenthood, employment and residential histories for cohorts born around 1940, 1950 and 1964 from the German Life History Studies. We analyse biographical interdependences across these life domains by comparing sequences of states during the young adulthood stage (i.e. age 16 to 30) using Multichannel Sequence Analysis. Preliminary results indicate cross-cohorts variation on the intersections between migration trajectories with both, family and employment trajectories. The younger the birth cohort, the more poorly mobile biographies intersect with traditional single earner households. The increasing proportion of dual earner couples among movers is conditional on, but not limited to, structural change on household compositions and female employment rates. However, migration biographies diverge across individuals in dual earner couples. This variation might depend on other sources of couple heterogeneity that deserve further examination such as occupational features of partner’s employment and gender roles within households.

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Presented in Session 79: Economic context and internal migration in Europe