With a heavy focus on immigration reform and policies in the news cycle, less is understood about what motivates migrants to move from one place to another within their own country.
A new study conducted by researchers from University College London used a modeling approach to examine internal migration patterns across the United States.
The results were published in the journal PLOS ONE and show that people are more likely to move to larger cities where they can be more assured of finding work and housing.
The study found that people from smaller cities and rural areas are more likely to move than people from larger cities, and the size and location of cities are important factors that potential migrants consider.
The researchers used a scaling model to help illustrate migration patterns and cities were considered areas with populations of 50,000 or more while anything less was considered a rural area.
Different city populations were then used and the researchers found that people from smaller cities of less 100,000 were twice as likely to move to larger cities with populations of more than 10 million.
Whereas residents of large cities were less likely to move and if they did, it was to similarly sized areas.
“The model can be used to more accurately predict population movement as it corrects biases which occur in other methods,” said Steven Bishop, a member of the research team. “This is an important, data-led development in revealing how communities and regions will grow and develop in the future.”
Moving to a larger city is likely motivated by the promise of more job options, better income earnings, better housing, and finding more people of similar cultures and backgrounds.
The researchers say the results could help policymakers and city leaders work to guarantee that migrants can successfully settle and contribute to new areas.
“The results could have an impact on future integration policies as governments can more accurately predict where citizens are likely to move from and to within their country,” said Rafael Prieto Curiel, the lead researcher of the study. “Migrants contribute to the prosperity of their destination with skills and activities, but migration requires integration policies and social support systems to allow newcomers to settle into a new environment and therefore fully contribute locally.”
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer