Types and Patterns of Later-life Migration
This paper refines previous typologies of later-life mobility by explicitly evaluating the spatial migration patterns and household characteristics of retired American migrants. Migrants' lifecourse attributes (economic status, disability, presence of spouse), large-scale migration patterns (internal migration) and household characteristics (living arrangements, economic independence, residential independence) are used to identify three types of post-retirement mobility. The first type, amenity migration, has a distinctive spatial pattern that suggests a search for attractive climate and leisure amenities. The second type of mobility, assistance migration, can be traced to low income and the absence of a spouse in the household. It often results in residential and economic dependence – specifically, in co-residence with adult children or other labor force members. The third type of mobility, migration in response to severe disability and spouse absence, tends to result in nursing home residence. While amenity migration has long been associated with good health and favorable economic status, this analysis reveals that many disabled and lower-income retirees share the inmigration pattern typical of amenity migrants. In fact, amenity migration is the predominant type of mobility among those migrants with fewer than two unfavorable lifecourse attributes (low income, severe disability and spouse absence). Unlike previous lifecourse typologies, this study shows no clear relationship between moderate disability and co-residence with adult children. The results suggest that co-residence is primarily a strategy for reducing living costs rather than a means of coping with moderate disability.
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