, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 2201–2221 | Cite as

Cohort Measures of Internal Migration: Understanding Long-Term Trends

  • Aude BernardEmail author


Internal migration intensities fluctuate over time, but both migration levels and trends show great diversity. The dynamics underpinning these trends remain poorly understood because they are analyzed almost exclusively by applying period measures to cross-sectional data. This article proposes 10 cohort measures that can be applied to both prospective and retrospective data to systematically examine long-term trends. To demonstrate their benefits, the proposed measures are applied to retrospective survey data for England that provide residential histories from birth to age 50 for cohorts born between 1918 and 1957. The analysis reveals stable lifetime migration for men but increased lifetime migration for women associated with earlier ages at moving in adulthood and a compression of intervals between consecutive moves. The proposed cohort measures provide a more comprehensive picture of migration behavior and should be used to complement period measures in exploring long-term trends. Increasing availability of retrospective and longitudinal survey data means that researchers can now apply the proposed measures to a wide range of countries.


Internal migration Cohort measures Completed migration rate Migration progression ratios 



The author thanks Martin Bell for providing comments on a draft version of this article and gratefully acknowledges the support of the Australian Research Council under ARC Early Career Discovery Project (DE160101574). The data were made available through the UK Data Archive. ELSA was developed by a team of researchers based at the NatCen Social Research, University College London and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The data were collected by NatCen Social Research. Funding was provided by the National Institute of Aging in the United States and a consortium of UK government departments coordinated by the Office for National Statistics. The developers and funders of ELSA and the Archive do not bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here.

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queensland Centre for Population Research, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Asian Demographic Research InstituteShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina

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