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Interpreting Migration Through the Prism of Reasons for Moves



Some interpretations of migration juxtapose jobs and amenities as alternative explanations for migration and regional growth but there is substantial evidence that migrants juggle a more complex set of motivations for migration than simply the attraction of a new job or a nice place to live. Occupational opportunities, family needs, communities, and lifestyles all play competing roles when households decide to move. This has always been true for local moves but appears to be relevant in longer distance moves also. We use data from the Housing, Income, and Labour Dynamics Survey in Australia to unpack the relative role of a wide variety of responses to the question – why did you move. The paper provides evidence that while migration is clearly related to labour market opportunities, non-economic motivations including family change, lifestyle choices, and housing needs also play powerful roles in long-distance migration decisions and often come with significant economic benefits. Clearly, jobs matter but it may be that they are the context within which migration occurs rather than simply an adjustment mechanism in the labour market. Survey data confirm that most moves are not generated by jobs per se, and the distribution of gains varies considerably by gender and reason for moves. Overall, this research emphasises the complexity of modern migration decisions. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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