Actuation of mobility intentions among the young-old: an event-history analysis

Gerontologist. 2008 Apr;48(2):190-202. doi: 10.1093/geront/48.2.190.


Purpose: Although migration decision making is central to understanding later-life migration, the critical step between migration intentions and mobility outcomes has received only limited empirical attention. We address two questions: How often are intended moves actuated? What factors condition the likelihood that mobility intentions will be actuated?

Design and methods: We employ data from the 1994-2002 Health and Retirement Study, which is a nationally representative panel targeting households containing persons aged 53 to 63 years at baseline. Event-history techniques are used to examine the link between reported mobility intentions at baseline and mobility outcomes across the study period, net of relevant controls. We conduct separate household-level analyses for couple and noncouple households and recognize three types of moves: local, family oriented, and nonlocal.

Results: Findings confirm the utility of mobility expectations as a predictor of future mobility. More importantly, results highlight the complex nature of later-life mobility. The actuation of mobility intentions appears to operate differently in couple than in noncouple households. Moreover, our findings suggest that the role of several key variables depends on the type of move under consideration.

Implications: The ability to identify potential "retirement migrants" may be of practical importance for state and local government officials as well as developers interested in recruiting or retaining young-old residents. Our study offers insight on the interpretation of stated mobility intentions. Moreover, consistent with early theoretical work in the field, our analysis suggests that empirical studies must account for heterogeneity among older movers in order to avoid misleading results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Databases as Topic
  • Emigration and Immigration / trends*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Dynamics*
  • Retirement
  • United States