The Prism of Migration

Dissimilarities Between Return and Onward Movers

by Peter A. Morrison, Julie DaVanzo


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This study first appeared in Social Science Quarterly, v. 67, no. 3, September 1986. It explores the premise that particular sequences of migration select particular types of persons, whose decisions to move are colored by a spectrum of motives, personal capabilities, and information sources. It uses longitudinal microdata to demonstrate that migrants who venture out and promptly return are distinctively different from other migrants. They are comparatively less educated and less skilled, recently unemployed, and less inclined to plan ahead or avoid taking risks. These findings broaden a traditional demographic perspective on migration by emphasizing the diversity of purposes that may operate, depending on where a particular move falls in a sequence of migration.

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