May 2011

Internal Migration in the United States

Raven Molloy, Christopher L. Smith, and Abigail Wozniak


We review patterns in migration within the U.S. over the past thirty years. Internal migration has fallen noticeably since the 1980s, reversing increases from earlier in the century. The decline in migration has been widespread across demographic and socioeconomic groups, as well as for moves of all distances. Although a convincing explanation for the secular decline in migration remains elusive and requires further research, we find only limited roles for the housing market contraction and the economic recession in reducing migration recently. Despite its downward trend, migration within the U.S. remains higher than that within most other developed countries.

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Keywords: U.S. migration, homeowner migration, trends in migration, cross-country comparison of migration

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Last Update: July 10, 2020