ISSN: 2056-3736 (Online Version) | 2056-3728 (Print Version)

Interregional Migration: Who Decides to Move?

Diana Castorina and Riccardo Welters

Correspondence: Diana Castorina,

College of Business, Law and Governance, James Cook University, Australia

pdf (762.05 Kb) | doi:


The functionality of a region depends on its people. Yet for some regions within Australia, attracting and retaining varied skilled people continues to be a challenge. What influences people to want to stay, move away from or move into a region? Before we can answer this question, we firstly need to understand ‘who’ is making this decision. Much of past research assumes the decision is made at the individual head of household level or must assume the decision is made at the individual as opposed to the household level as a result of data availability. This paper highlights the limitations of making such an assumption and offers an alternative method transforming secondary microdata to reflect the collective household unit as the decision making unit. We find that our migration models are statistically robust with results consistent with conventional studies that show smaller, younger households are more mobile. Most importantly, however, we find evidence that our proxies which represent characteristics of the collective unit, termed “Decision Making Unit”, are also statistically significant. Thus, justifying the need for migration models to reflect the collective unit and not just the individual, should we seek to better understand motives.


   interregional migration, migration, decision-making, households, regions


Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016). 2901.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 Retrieved from, A. J., Blake, M. K., & Cooke, T. J. (2004). Migration, care, and the linked lives of dual-earner households. Environment and Planning A, 36(9), 1617-1632.Beine, M., Noël, R., & Ragot, L. (2014). Determinants of the international mobility of students. Economics of Education Review, 41(0), 40-54., M. (1996). How often do Australians move? Alternative measures of population mobility. Journal of the Australian Population Association, 13(2), 101-124.Bell, M. (2003). Comparing internal migration between countries: Measures, data sources and results.Bell, M., Blake, M., Boyle, P., Duke-Williams, O., Rees, P., Stillwell, J., & Hugo, G. (2002). Cross-National Comparison of Internal Migration: Issues and Measures. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (Statistics in Society), 165(3), 435-464., M., Charles-Edwards, E., Kupiszewska, D., Kupiszewski, M., Stillwell, J., & Zhu, Y. (2015a). Internal Migration Data Around the World: Assessing Contemporary Practice. Population, Space and Place, 21(1), 1-17., M., Charles‐Edwards, E., Ueffing, P., Stillwell, J., Kupiszewski, M., & Kupiszewska, D. (2015b). Internal migration and development: Comparing migration intensities around the world. Population and Development Review, 41(1), 33-58.Bell, M., & Stratton, M. (1998). Understanding the 1996 Census migration data. Journal of the Australian Population Association, 15(2), 155-169.Bell, M., & Ward, G. (2000). Comparing temporary mobility with permanent migration. Tourism Geographies, 2(1), 87-107., T. J., & Gottainer, G. (2000). Family Structure and Children's Success: A Comparison of Widowed and Divorced Single-Mother Families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(2), 533-548., M., Bell, M., & Rees, P. (2000). Creating a temporally consistent spatial framework for the analysis of inter‐regional migration in Australia. International Journal of Population Geography, 6(2), 155-174.Blien, U., Suedekum, J., & Wolf, K. (2006). Local employment growth in West Germany: A dynamic panel approach. Labour Economics, 13(4), 445-458.Borjas, G. J., & Bratsberg, B. (1996). Who leaves? The outmigration of the foreign-born. Review of Economics and Statistics, 78(1), 165-176. <Go to ISI>://WOS:A1996UH15800014Boyle, P., Cooke, T. J., Halfacree, K., & Smith, D. (2001). A Cross-National Comparison of the Impact of Family Migration on Women's Employment Status. Demography, 38(2), 201-213., D., Stoeckl, N., & Welters, R. (2010, 2 - 3 December). Internal migration in Australia: Does it exacerbate or mitigate regional skills disparities? 12th Path to Full Employment Conference, Newcastle. NSW, Australia.Chen, Y., & Rosenthal, S. S. (2008). Local amenities and life-cycle migration: Do people move for jobs or fun? Journal of Urban Economics, 64(3), 519-537., G., & Voss, P. (2005). Migration decision-making: a hierarchical regression approach. Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, 35(2), 11-22.Coleman, D. (2013). The twilight of the census. Population and Development Review, 38, 334-351.Compton, J., & Pollak, R. A. (2007). Why Are Power Couples Increasingly Concentrated in Large Metropolitan Areas? Journal of Labor Economics, 25(3), 475-512., T. J. (2003). Family migration and the relative earnings of husbands and wives [Article]. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93(2), 338-349., J., Faggian, A., & McCann, P. (2010). Human Capital in Remote and Rural Australia: The Role of Graduate Migration. Growth and Change, 41(2), 192-220., B., & Poot, J. (2004). Crossing boundaries and borders: Regional science advances in migration modelling. Papers in Regional Science, 83(1), 317-338., M., & De Haas, H. (2014). The globalization of migration: Has the world become more migratory? International Migration Review, 48(2), 283-323.DaVanzo, J. (1978). Does Unemployment Affect Migration? Evidence from Micro Data. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 60(4), 504-514., C. J. (2006). Are Social Networks the Ties that Bind Families to Neighborhoods? Housing Studies, 21(6), 867-881., G. H., Johnson, M. K., & Crosnoe, R. (2003). The Emergence and Development of Life Course Theory. In J. T. Mortimer & M. J. Shanahan (Eds.), Handbook of the Life Course (pp. 3-19). Springer US., K., Lindgren, U., & Westerlund, O. (2003). Geographical Labour Mobility: Migration or Commuting? Regional Studies, 37(8), 827 - 837., K., Nakosteen, R., Westerlund, O., & Zimmer, M. (2014). All in the family: Self-selection and migration by couples. Papers in Regional Science, 93(1), 101-124., A., Rajbhandari, I., & Dotzel, K. R. (2017). The interregional migration of human capital and its regional consequences: a review. Regional Studies, 51(1), 128-143., A. (2012). Migration in Britain paradoxes of the present, prospects for the future (Vol. null).Finney, N., & Simpson, L. (2008). Internal migration and ethnic groups: evidence for Britain from the 2001 Census. Population, Space and Place, 14(2), 63-83., R. (2002). Bohemia and economic geography. J Econ Geogr, 2(1), 55-71., C., & McManus, P. A. (2012). Different Reasons, Different Results: Implications of Migration by Gender and Family Status [Article]. Demography, 49(1), 197-217., A., Brennan-Horley, C., McLean, K., Waitt, G., & Gibson, C. (2010). Mapping same-sex couple family households in Australia [Article]. Journal of Maps, 382-392., P. E., & Linneman, P. D. (1979). Household migration: Theoretical and empirical results. Journal of Urban Economics, 6(3), 383-404., A. E. (1997). A question of compromise? Case study evidence on the location and mobility strategies of dual career households [Article]. Regional Studies, 31(7), 641-657., M. J. (1997). Chapter 12 Internal migration in developed countries. In Handbook of Population and Family Economics (Vol. 1, pp. 647-720). Elsevier., M. J. (2005). Modeling migration. Encyclopedia of social measurement, 2, 725-734.Halfacree, K. H., Flowerdew, R., & Johnson, J. H. (1992). The Characteristics of British Migrants in the 1990s: Evidence from a New Survey. The Geographical Journal, 158(2), 157-169., T., Brochmann, G., Tamas, K., & Faist, T. (2021). International migration, immobility and development: Multidisciplinary perspectives. Routledge.Hardill, I., Green, A., Owen, D., & Dudleston, A. (1997). Who Decides What? Decision Making in Dual-Career Households. Work, Employment & Society, 11(2), 313-326., E. (1971). An Introduction to Regional Economics. Alfred A. Knopf.Irwin, M., Blanchard, T., Tolbert, C., Nucci, A., & Lyson, T. (2004). Why People Stay: The Impact of Community Context on Nonmigration in the USA. Population (English Edition, 2002-), 59(5), 567-591., R., & Savouri, S. (1992). Regional Migration in Britain: An Analysis of Gross Flows Using NHS Central Register Data. The Economic Journal, 102(415), 1433-1450., R. (2018). Context-Based Qualitative Research and Multi-sited Migration Studies in Europe. In R. Zapata-Barrero & E. Yalaz (Eds.), Qualitative Research in European Migration Studies (pp. 35-56). Springer International Publishing., M., & Andersson, G. (2020). Two decades of same-sex marriage in Sweden: A demographic account of developments in marriage, childbearing, and divorce. Demography, 57(1), 147-169.Kopnina-Geyer, H. (1998). [International Migration, Immobility and Development: Multidisciplinary perspectives, T. Hammer, G. Brochman, K. Tamas, T. Faist]. Cambridge Anthropology, 20(3), 100-103., H. (2008). Fertility and spatial mobility in the life course: evidence from Austria. Environment and Planning A, 40(3), 632-652., H., & Milewski, N. (2007). Family change and migration in the life course: An introduction [Editorial Material]. Demographic Research, 17, 567-590., E. S. (1966). A Theory of Migration. Demography, 3(1), 47-57., L. (1992). Changing Residence - Comparative Perspectives on its Relationship to Age, Sex and Marital-Status [Article]. Population Studies-a Journal of Demography, 46(1), 141-158. <Go to ISI>://A1992HG97300010Long, L. H. (1972). The Influence of Number and Ages of Children on Residential Mobility. Demography, 9(3), 371-382., L. H. (1973). Migration Differentials by Education and Occupation: Trends and Variations. Demography, 10(2), 243-258., J. (1968). Human migration: a guide to migration literature in English, 1955-1962.Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Pellegrino, A., & Taylor, J. E. (1993). Theories of International Migration: A Review and Appraisal. Population and Development Review, 19(3), 431-466., K. E., Hogan, T. D., & Happel, S. K. (1995). Multiple Residence and Cyclical Migration: A Life Course Perspective∗. The Professional Geographer, 47(3), 251-267.Miller, S. J. (1976). Family Life Cycle, Extended Family Orientations, and Economic Aspirations as Factors in the Propensity to Migrate. The Sociological Quarterly, 17(3), 323-335., J. (1978). Family Migration Decisions. The Journal of Political Economy, 86(5), 749-773., P. S., & Clark, W. A. V. (2011). Internal migration and employment: macro flows and micro motives [Article]. Environment and Planning A, 43(8), 1948-1964., C. H., & Wagner, M. (1993). Migration and Marriage in the Life Course- A Method for Studying Synchronized Events. European Journal of Population-Revue Europeenne De Demographie, 9(1), 55-76. <Go to ISI>://WOS:A1993MP73900003Myers, S. M. (2000). The impact of religious involvement on migration. Social Forces, 79(2), 755-783.Newbold, K. B., & Bell, M. (2001). Return and Onwards Migration in Canada and Australia: Evidence From Fixed Interval Data. International Migration Review, 35(4), 1157-1184., A. (2010). Migration and innovation: Does cultural diversity matter for regional R&D activity? Papers in Regional Science, 89(3), 563-585.Niedomysl, T. (2008). Residential preferences for interregional migration in Sweden: demographic, socioeconomic, and geographical determinants. Environment and Planning A, 40(5), 1109-1131., T., & Fransson, U. (2014). On Distance and the Spatial Dimension in the Definition of Internal Migration. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 104(2), 357-372., S. (2004). Determinants of family migration: short moves vs. long moves. Journal of Population Economics, 17(1), 157-175., S. (2003). Migration Flows in Finland: Regional Differences in Migration Determinants and Migrant Types. International Regional Science Review, 26(4), 466-482., S., & Tervo, H. (2002). Unemployment and Migration: Does Moving Help? The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 104(4), 621-639., C. A., & Wadsworth, J. (1989). Unemployment and the Inter-Regional Mobility of Labour. The Economic Journal, 99(397), 739-755., S. A. (1993). The herfindahl-hirschman index. Fed. Res. Bull., 79, 188.Ritchey, P. N. (1976). Explanations of Migration. Annual Review of Sociology, 2(1), 363-404.ä, J., & Ovaskainen, M. (2001). Migration and regional centralization of human capital. Applied Economics, 33(3), 317-325., C. C. (1971). Migration as a Spatial and Temporal Process Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 61(3), 589-598., G. D., & Scott, W. J. (1981). A Dynamic Analysis of Migration: An Assessment of the Effects of Age, Family and Career Variables. Demography, 18(3), 355-368., S. H. (1977). Women and the Economics of Family Migration. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 59(4), 406-414., M., & Holmes, K. (2014). An empirical analysis of the use of the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index in assessing the distribution of electronic gaming machines and its socio-economic implications. International Gambling Studies, 14(2), 251-265., S., & Lichter, D. T. (2020). Cohabitation and Marriage: Complexity and Diversity in Union-Formation Patterns. Journal of Marriage and Family, 82(1), 35-61., L. A. (1962). The Costs and Returns of Human Migration. Journal of Political Economy, 70(5), 80-93., R. (2012). 11 Migration and its measurement: towards a more robust map of bilateral flows. Handbook of Research Methods in Migration, 229.Smith, D. P. (2004). An ‘untied’ research agenda for family migration: loosening the ‘shackles’ of the past. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 30(2), 263-282., D. P. (2011). Geographies of long-distance family migration: Moving to a 'spatial turn'. Progress in Human Geography, 35(5), 652-668., J. (2001). Career Migration, Self-selection and the Earnings of Married Men and Women in the Netherlands, 1981-93. Urban Studies, 38(3), 541-562., R. C. (1969). Migration and motivation: a study of determinants and types.Trovato, F., & Halli, S. S. (1983). Ethnicity and Migration in Canada. International Migration Review, 17(2), 245-267., W. P. M. (1993). Labour Market Performance as a Determinant of Migration. Economica, 60(238), 143-160. (New Series)Waite, L. J. (2005). Marriage and Family. In D. L. Poston & M. Micklin (Eds.), Handbook of Population (pp. 87-108). Springer US., G., & Gorman-Murray, A. (2011). Journeys and Returns: Home, Life Narratives and Remapping Sexuality in a Regional City [Article]. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(6), 1239-1255., M. J., & Lindstrom, D. P. (2005). Internal migration. In Handbook of population (pp. 311-346). Springer.