Migration and rights of access: new public concerns of the 1970s

by Peter A. Morrison

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Changed patterns of migration and a slowdown in population growth have intensified concern with population movements and their consequences. These changes have brought the right to migrate into conflict with the rights of the population in destination areas. This paper offers a demographic perspective on migration and the issue of access as manifested in two situations: (1) "energy boom towns" (e.g., Gillette, Wyoming, Colstrip, Montana); and growth-limiting communities (e.g., Petaluma, California, and Boulder, Colorado). Beneath the concern with migration are more profound legal and political questions, such as "Who gets to live where?" and "Who is to decide, and by what criteria?" Society provides implicit answers through private and public decisions that control local settlement patterns. This introduces the idea of tinkering with the complex system by which population and economic changes occur throughout the country. The hazard is that there is no clear place for such tinkering to stop.

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