Population and Environment

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 467–488 | Cite as

Do People Move When They Say They Will? Inconsistencies in Individual Migration Behavior



Conventional theories of migration decision–making posit that there exists a simple, sequential link between residential satisfaction, mobility intentions and actual moving behavior. Past empirical work, however, has indicated substantial discrepancies between mobility intentions and behavior. This study investigates behavioral inconsistencies in migration using data drawn from the 1985, 1987 and 1989 rounds of the American Housing Survey (AHS). Mobility is inferred by comparing occupants of the same housing units in two consecutive surveys. The results show that a substantial number of people do not realize their intention to move and many move unexpectedly; with or without prior intentions to move, movers and stayers appear to differ significantly in terms of their sociodemographic characteristics. The extent to which individuals act consistently with their intentions also differs along with their attributes (e.g., tenure, age, education and gender). The paper discusses possible reasons for behavioral inconsistencies in migration based on recent developments in social psychological theories of human behavior.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Lu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyKansas State UniversityManhattan

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