Journal of Population Research

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 1–27 | Cite as

Migration and retirement in the life course: an event history approach

  • Nikola SanderEmail author
  • Martin Bell


Migration at older ages is commonly explained by reference to the search for greater amenity, and subsequently by the onset of greater dependency, but the links between mobility and specific life course transitions have rarely been articulated. We aim to establish the timing of migration in relation to retirement from the labour force, and to determine how its intensity varies around the retirement event. We also seek to identify how household and individual characteristics shape the propensity and timing of migration, differentiating moves according to distance and with particular attention to the characteristics of the spouse. Data are drawn from the first six waves of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, a nationally representative panel study covering the period 2001–2006. Migration events are identified relative to retirement and event history methods are employed to establish the characteristics predisposing households to relocate around retirement. Results demonstrate that retirement acts as a trigger to migration but the propensity to move falls as retirement age rises and the hazard is increasingly concentrated in the year retirement occurs. Within this framework the presence, health, education and retirement status of a spouse exert a significant influence on the likelihood of migration, though with different effects for long and short distance moves. Results highlight the importance of variations in underlying life-course trajectories in shaping retirement migration and demonstrate that only a minority of moves at ages 55–69 are directly associated with retirement, underlining the need for caution when identifying retirement migration using age as a proxy measure.


Internal migration Retirement Life course Event history analysis Australia 



This paper was supported financially by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP 0451399, Understanding the Structure of Internal Migration in Australia. This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the author and should not be attributed to either FaHCSIA or the Melbourne Institute. The authors would like to thank Jutta Gampe and Temesgen Kifle for their comments on an earlier version of the paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)Vienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria
  2. 2.Queensland Centre for Population Research, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental ManagementThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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