Is migration a learned behaviour? Understanding the impact on past migration on future migration

Is migration a learned behaviour? Understanding the impact on past migration on future migration

Despite growing efforts to conceptualise residential mobility and migration as long-term trajectories, because of methodological challenges and the lack of adequate data, most empirical studies have resorted to examining year-to-year changes in place of residence. As a result, the impact of past migration experiences on future migration behaviour remains poorly understood. To shed light on path dependency in individual migration trajectories, this project examines associations between past moves on subsequent migration behaviour from birth to age 50, distinguishing between (i) residential mobility, internal migration and international migration and (ii) return and onward moves. By applying random-effect multinominal regression models to retrospective life-history data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, we demonstrate that the decision to migrate at a particular point in time is embedded within a wider migration history that started in childhood. However, we also find that the effect of past moves diminishes as individuals progress in their migration career. These findings hold for residential, internal and international moves. Altogether, these results lend support to the theoretical proposition that migration is a learned behaviour and highlight the importance of accounting for time interdependency in individuals’ migration trajectories.

Aude Bernard is a lecturer at the University of Queensland. Her research focuses on understanding migration processes and their consequences for individuals, regions and nations particularly from a demographic perspective. Most of her work is comparative and has a methodological focus to allow robust comparisons over time and between countries.

Date & time

Tue 25 Aug 2020, 12:30pm to 1:30pm




Dr Aude Bernard, University of Queensland


Susan Cowan


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