While levels of migration within countries have been trending down in a number of advanced economies, Sweden has recorded a rise in internal migration among young adults. An increase in aggregate migration levels can be the result of a decline in immobility (i.e. the absence of migration), an increase in repeat movement or a combination of both. In this paper, we draw on retrospective survey and longitudinal register data to explore the demographic mechanisms underpinning the rise in internal migration among young Swedes born in the 30 years to 1980 and we compare the migration behaviour of the youngest cohort to that of their European counterparts. Of all 25 European countries, Sweden reports the highest level of migration among young adults, which is the result of very low immobility combined with high repeat movement. The increase in migration has been particularly pronounced for inter-county moves for the post-1970 cohorts. Analysis of order-specific components of migration shows that this is the result of a decrease in immobility combined with a modest rise in higher-order moves, whereas it is the rise in higher-order moves that underpins the increase in inter-parish migration. This upswing has been accompanied by a shift in the ages at migration, characterised by an earlier start and later finish leading to a lengthening of the number of years young adults are mobile. The results indicate that change in migration behaviour is order-specific, which underlines the need to collect and analyse migration by move order to obtain a reliable account of migration trends.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
The Eurobarometer did not collect the age at which moves took place, except the age at leaving the parental home. For this reason, we could not restrict the analysis to the ages of 18–30 as we did with Swedish register data and had to analyse migration behaviour over a wider age range (e.g. 15–35).
See Kolk (2019) for sex-specific overall migration patterns.
Immobility is defined as the absence of migration in given interval and thus does not refer the inability of a person to move around in daily activity without help or aids.
Amcoff, J., & Niedomysl, T. (2013). Back to the city: Internal return migration to metropolitan regions in Sweden. Planning and Environment A,45(10), 2477–2494.
Andersson, R., Quigley, J. M., & Wilhelmson, M. (2004). University decentralization as regional policy: The Swedish experiment. Journal of Economic Geography,4(4), 371–388. https://doi.org/10.1093/jnlecg/lbh031.
Bell, M., et al. (2015a). Internal migration and development: Comparing migration intensities around the world. Population and Development Review,41(1), 33–58.
Bell, M., et al. (2015b). Internal migration data around the world: Assessing contemporary practice. Population, Space and Place,21(1), 1–17.
Bell, M., Charles-Edwards, E., Bernard, A., & Ueffing, P (2018). Global trends in internal migration. In T. Champion, T. Cooke, & I. Shuttleworth (Eds.), Internal migration in the developed world: are we becoming less mobile? (pp. 76–97). London: Routledge.
Bernard, A. (2017a). Cohort measures of internal migration: Understanding long-term trends. Demography,54(6), 2201–2221.
Bernard, A. (2017b). Levels and patterns of internal migration in Europe: A cohort perspective. Population Studies,71(3), 293–311.
Bernard, A., Bell, M., & Zhu, Y. (2019). Migration in China: A Cohort approach to understanding past and future trends. Population Space and Place,2019, e2234.
Bernard, A., et al. (2017). Residential mobility in Australia and the United States: A retrospective study. Australian Population Studies,1(1), 41–54.
Champion, T., Cooke, T., & Shuttleworth, I. (2018). Internal migration in the developed world: Are we becoming less mobile?. London: Routledge.
Champion, A. G., & Shuttleworth, I. (2017). Is longer-distance migration slowing? An analysis of the annual record for England and Wales since the 1970s. Population, Space and Place,23(3), e2024. https://doi.org/10.1002/psp.2024.
Chudnovskaya, M., & Kolk, M. (2017). Educational expansion and intergenerational proximity in Sweden. Population, Space, and Place,23(1), e1973.
Courgeau, D. (1973). Migrations et découpages du territoire. Population (french edition), 511–537.
Esipova, N., Pugliese, A., & Ray, J. (2013). The demographics of global internal migration. Migration Policy Practice,3(2), 3–5.
Fischer, P. A., & Malmberg, G. (2001). Settled people don’t move: On life course and (im-) mobility in Sweden. International Journal of Population Geography,7(5), 357–371.
Hogskoleverket. (2013). Higher education in Sweden, Status Report (Swedish Higher Education Authority).
Kolk, M. (2019). Period and cohort measures of internal migration. Population, 74(3), 333–350.
Kulu, H., Lundholm, E., & Malmberg, G. (2018). Is spatial mobility on the rise or in decline? An order-specific analysis of the migration of young adults in Sweden. Population Studies,72(3), 1–15.
Lomax, N., & Stillwell, J. (2018). Temporal change in internal migration in the United Kingdom. In T. Champion, T. J. Cooke, & I. Shuttleworth (Eds.), Internal migration in the developed world: Are we becoming less mobile?. London: Routledge.
Long, L. (1973). New estimates of migration expectancy in the United States. Journal of the American Statistical Association,68(341), 37–43.
Lundholm, E. (2007). Are movers still the same? Characteristics of interregional migrants in Sweden 1970–2001. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie,98(3), 336–348.
Openshaw, S. (1984). The modifiable areal unit problem. In Study Group in Quantitative Methods (Ed.), Concepts and techniques in modern geography. Norwich: Geobooks.
Pelikh, A., & Kulu, H. (2018). Short-and long-distance moves of young adults during the transition to adulthood in Britain. Population, Space and Place, 24(5), e2125.
Poulain, M., & Herm, A. (2013). Central population registers as a source of demographic statistics in Europe. Population,68(2), 183–212.
Rees, P., & Kupiszewski, M. (1999). Internal migration and regional population dynamics in Europe: A synthesis (Populatio Studies, 32: Council of Europe Publishing), Strasbourg.
Sánchez, A. C., & Andrews, D. (2011). To move or not to move: What drives residential mobility Rates in the OECD? OECD Economics Department Working paper 846, Paris.
Shuttleworth, I., Osth, J., & Niedomysl, T. (2018). Internal migration in a high-migration Nordic country. In T. Champion, T. Cooke, & I. Shuttleworth (Eds.), Internal migration in the developed world: Are we becoming less mobilie?. London: Routledge.
Smith, J. P., & Thomas, D. (2003). Remembrances of things past: Test–retest reliability of retrospective migration histories. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society),166(1), 23–49.
Wyness, G. (2010). Policy changes in UK higher education funding, 1963–2009, Working Paper (pp. 10–15). London: Department of Quantitative Social Science, Institute of Education.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Australian Research Council under ARC Early Career Discovery Project (DE160101574) and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (P17-0330:1).
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Bernard, A., Kolk, M. Are Young Swedes Moving More? A Cohort Analysis of Internal Migration by Move Order. Eur J Population 36, 601–615 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-019-09542-z
- Internal migration
- Cohort analysis
- Completed migration rate
- Completed migration distribution
- Young adults