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Clarifying the relationships between health and residential mobility


  • Larson, Ann
  • Bell, Martin
  • Young, Anne Frances


Health-selective migration within countries has been implicated as one of the mechanisms by which spatial disadvantage is created and maintained. However, there is conflicting evidence on the nature of the relationship between health and mobility, caused in part by diverse definitions, and age and sex differences. This paper uses the first two waves of data for the middle-aged cohort (aged 45-50 in 1996) of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health to investigate the relationship between four sets of health variables with subsequent local moves (within the same postcode), longer distance moves (between postcodes) and inter-regional migration from rural and remote areas 'up' the urban hierarchy. After adjusting for socio-economic and marital status, short and longer distance mobility among these middle-aged Australian women was positively associated with long-term and chronic poor health and being a smoker. Moves between postcodes and rural-to-urban migration were positively associated with multiple recent visits to a medical specialist. Our findings are consistent with UK and US studies that have found mobility to be more strongly associated with poor health than good health in mature adults. As the population ages, the health of receiving areas may be adversely affected by relatively unhealthy in-migrants seeking amenities not provided in their former place of residence.

Suggested Citation

  • Larson, Ann & Bell, Martin & Young, Anne Frances, 2004. "Clarifying the relationships between health and residential mobility," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(10), pages 2149-2160, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:59:y:2004:i:10:p:2149-2160

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    Cited by:

    1. Kravdal, Øystein, 2009. "Mortality effects of average education in current and earlier municipality of residence among internal migrants, net of their own education," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 1484-1492, November.
    2. Lankila, Tiina & Näyhä, Simo & Rautio, Arja & Koiranen, Markku & Rusanen, Jarmo & Taanila, Anja, 2013. "Health and well-being of movers in rural and urban areas – A grid-based analysis of northern Finland birth cohort 1966," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 169-178.
    3. Darlington-Pollock, Frances & Norman, Paul & Lee, Arier C. & Grey, Corina & Mehta, Suneela & Exeter, Daniel J., 2016. "To move or not to move? Exploring the relationship between residential mobility, risk of cardiovascular disease and ethnicity in New Zealand," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 128-140.
    4. David Briggs & Daniela Fecht & Kees de Hoogh, 2007. "Census data issues for epidemiology and health risk assessment: experiences from the Small Area Health Statistics Unit," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(2), pages 355-378.
    5. Green, Mark A. & Subramanian, S.V. & Vickers, Daniel & Dorling, Danny, 2015. "Internal migration, area effects and health: Does where you move to impact upon your health?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 136, pages 27-34.
    6. Curtis, Sarah & Setia, Maninder S. & Quesnel-Vallee, Amelie, 2009. "Socio-geographic mobility and health status: A longitudinal analysis using the National Population Health Survey of Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 1845-1853, December.
    7. Tunstall, Helena & Mitchell, Richard & Pearce, Jamie & Shortt, Niamh, 2014. "The general and mental health of movers to more- and less-disadvantaged socio-economic and physical environments within the UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 97-107.
    8. Jokela, Markus & Kivimäki, Mika & Elovainio, Marko & Viikari, Jorma & Raitakari, Olli T. & Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa, 2009. "Urban/rural differences in body weight: Evidence for social selection and causation hypotheses in Finland," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 867-875, March.
    9. Marie-Hélène Vandersmissen & Anne-Marie Séguin & Marius Thériault & Christophe Claramunt, 2009. "Modeling propensity to move after job change using event history analysis and temporal GIS," Journal of Geographical Systems, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 37-65, March.
    10. Schulz, Amy J. & Israel, Barbara A. & Zenk, Shannon N. & Parker, Edith A. & Lichtenstein, Richard & Shellman-Weir, Sheryl & A.B., Laura Klem, 2006. "Psychosocial stress and social support as mediators of relationships between income, length of residence and depressive symptoms among African American women on Detroit's eastside," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 510-522, January.
    11. Wilding, Sam & Martin, David & Moon, Graham, 2016. "The impact of limiting long term illness on internal migration in England and Wales: New evidence from census microdata," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 107-115.
    12. Riva, Mylène & Curtis, Sarah & Norman, Paul, 2011. "Residential mobility within England and urban–rural inequalities in mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(12), pages 1698-1706.
    13. repec:spr:ijphth:v:63:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s00038-017-1011-4 is not listed on IDEAS


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