2002 volume 34(5) pages 923 – 945
doi:10.1068/a34216

Cite as:
Clark W A V, Withers S D, 2002, "Disentangling the interaction of migration, mobility, and labor-force participation" Environment and Planning A 34(5) 923 – 945

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Disentangling the interaction of migration, mobility, and labor-force participation

William A V Clark, Suzanne Davies Withers

Received 25 October 2001; in revised form 10 January 2002

Abstract. The authors examine the impact of mobility on the labor-force status of two-earner households in the United States, in a longitudinal context. There has recently been a resurgence of interest within industry and academia in the impact of family migration on the labor-force status of women, and on dual-earner families in general. Much of the research in this field has documented the disruptive effects of migration on the labor-force status of women, particularly with respect to unemployment, underemployment, and interrupted careers. However, there is another body of research that has challenged the disruption assumption with findings that many women benefit from family migration. The conflicting results persist when the modeling procedures account for the selectivity of migrants. Missing from the literature is a comparison of the impact of mobility on the labor-force status of men as well as women at varying geographical scales. The authors have used a new methodology to extend previous work on the impact of family migration by directly comparing the labor-force status of dual-earner households who migrate long distances, with that of households who move within the same labor market, and with that of households who remain residentially stable. The authors have used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to show conclusively that, although there are disruptive effects, these are relatively short lived for most households. In addition, the results suggest that average changes mask very large variations in what happens to husbands and wives who relocate. This study emphasizes the dynamic nature of wives' labor-force participation relative to their husbands' immediately before and after a move, a finding that has not been established by other work on migration and labor-force participation.

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