Relative Social Position and U.S. Internal Migration: Patterns by Race and Ethnicity


The U.S. population is highly mobile and yet our understanding of the determinants and consequences of internal mobility remains incomplete, particularly when it comes to explaining disparate patterns by race, ethnicity, and nativity. Recent trends of heightened black southern migration and increased dispersal of Hispanic settlement lend new relevance to the subject. Accordingly, this application proposes to explore and compare the determinants and outcomes for migrants of internal mobility among Non-Hispanic white, Non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and Asian men in the U.S. between 1995 and 2000. I concentrate on three novel areas. First, most studies of internal migration focus exclusively on the absolute gains, usually earnings, associated with migration, neglecting relative considerations. This is particularly limiting since a number of studies have found negligible and even negative absolute wage change following internal migration. Second, migration patterns vary not only by race and ethnicity but also by nativity. Given the growth of the immigrant population, a better understanding of the articulation between native and immigrant population movements, and their implications for the well-being of both groups, will be valuable. Third, there has been relatively little elaboration on how the determinants and outcomes of migration vary according to the regions of origin and destination, and what they portend for understanding both overall flows and racial and ethnic differences. Thus, the overarching objectives of this project are to explore a relative deprivation theory of internal migration and empirically test its contribution to racial and ethnic mobility patterns in the U.S. The analytic strategy sequentially links the decision to migrate with its potential impact on employment prospects and subsequent gains in absolute and relative position, according to regions of origin and destination.

Funded By: 
Award Dates: 
July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012
PARC Grant Year: 
Year 18