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Rural Youth: Stayers, Leavers and Return Migrants

  • Mayer, Francine
  • Dupuy, Richard
  • Morissette, Rene

There has been for some time substantial concern regarding the loss of young people in rural communities. There is a sense that most rural communities offer few opportunities for their younger people, requiring them to leave for urban communities, most likely not to return. While there is a considerable body of research on interprovincial migration, relatively little is currently known about migration patterns in rural and urban areas in Canada. According to our analysis, in virtually all provinces young people 15 to 19 years of age are leaving rural areas in greater proportions than urban areas - in part to pursue post-secondary education. While there are more complex migration patterns affecting the 20-29 age group, the net result of all migration is that the Atlantic provinces - as well as Manitoba and Saskatchewan - are net losers of their rural population aged 15-29. The problem is particularly acute in Newfoundland. In the Atlantic provinces, rural areas which fare worse than the national average - in terms of net gains of youth population - do so not because they have a higher than average percentage of leavers but rather because they are unable to attract a sufficiently high proportion of individuals into their communities. Of all individuals who move out of their rural community, at most 25% return to this community ten years later. The implication of this result is clear: one cannot count on return migration as a means of preserving the population size of a given cohort. Rather, rural areas must rely on inflows from other (urban) areas to achieve this goal. Some rural communities achieve this; that is, they register positive net in-migration of persons aged 25-29 or older, even though they incur a net loss of younger people. Individuals who move out of rural areas generally experience higher earnings growth than their counterparts who stay. However, it remains an open question in which direction the causality works: is the higher earnings growth the result of the migration process itself or does it reflect the possibility that people with higher earnings growth potential are more likely to become movers?

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Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 2000152e.

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Date of creation: 05 Sep 2000
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Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2000152e
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