Our "Increasingly mobile society"? The curious persistence of a false belief

Douglas A. Wolf, Charles F. Longino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Purpose: We call attention to the widespread belief that the United States is an "increasingly mobile society," despite the fact that overall mobility has generally declined since about 1950, and interstate mobility has generally not increased during the same period. We review and extend past research documenting these mobility trends. Design and Methods: We describe population-level mobility for people of all ages as well as for several adult age groups, using published data from the U.S. Current Population Survey. We use simple regression methods to estimate the size and significance of mobility trends. Results: Overall mobility rates have declined for individuals of all ages and among all age groups. The largest average annual declines occur for 20- to 29-year-olds, although the rate of decline for those aged 65 and older is also large. Interstate mobility has declined slightly or remained constant, except among adults between 45 and 64 years old. Implications: Although there may be good reasons to worry about the future of family care provided to elderly individuals, increased geographic mobility does not appear to be one of them. We speculate on reasons why the false belief persists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Census data
  • Migration
  • Mobility
  • Trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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