Research Output

Migration decision-making processes: an empirical investigation.

  This thesis has two purposes. The first is to investigate the motivation for household
migration - in particular, the associations between the different reasons for moving
and the characteristics of owner-occupier movers in Scotland, their houses and the
distances they travel. The second is to investigate the extent to which the migration
decision is a longitudinal one, and from this longitudinal analysis to highlight the
extent of latent migration. Little longitudinal research has previously been carried out
on the migration decision.
The thesis uses two recent, large-scale and under-utilised data sources to investigate
each of these issues. Firstly, the associations with motivations for migration are
investigated using the 'Migration and Housing Choice Survey' (MHCS) which
contains information from 10,010 households. The advantage of this cross-sectional
source lies in its provision of detailed information on motivations at a national level of
coverage. The large-scale, national coverage makes it possible to investigate many
types of migration flow. This advantage is not shared by any other British research
into motivations for migration and only three other data sets elsewhere. Secondly,
the extent to which the decision to n-iigrate is part of an on-going process is
investigated using the 'British Household Panel Survey' (BBPS). This new and
under-exploited source of migration data contains longitudinal information from
10,264 individuals in the first wave and holds approximately this sample size through
each of the following four waves.
This thesis makes four key contributions to knowledge. The first three are based on
the detailed and systematic analysis of the reasons for residential migration behaviour
of owner-occupiersin Scotland,u sing the MHCS. Firstly, the reasonsf or moving, as
suggestedb y previously small-scaler esearch,h ave been confirmed by this large-scale
data set. Secondly, this thesis has extended - and in some cases refuted - the findings
of previous researchb y investigatingt he bivariate associationsb etween each of the
reasons for moving and each possible explanatory variables (these being
characteristicso f migrants, of their home and of the distancest hey move). This has
been investigated using much wider selection of reasons for moving and of
characteristicsth an hasb eenp reviouslyd one. Thirdly, this thesish as shown that lifecycle
stage exerts a considerable amount of influence on the reasons given for
moving, whilst still operating in conjunction with other variables, such as distance
moved and housing features. The MIHCS can, for the first time, enable research into
the connection between the factors influencing migration flows and the factors
influencing motivations for migration.
Fourthly, this thesis has investigated how migration decisions and preference for
migration relate over time, using longitudinal data (the BHPS). This has shown that a
considerable amount of latent mobility is present in Britain, and even more
importantly, has identified the characteristics of the latent migrants and frequent
movers. In addition, this thesis has offered some methodological pointers for future
migration research.
Overall, the use of these two important but under-utilised data sets, the MECS and
the BBPS, have enabled analyses to be undertaken that are unique in the history of
nýgration research.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    29 February 2000

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    304 Factors affecting social behavior


Forster, E. Migration decision-making processes: an empirical investigation. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from


migration; reasons; longitudinal; latent; motivations; housing choice;

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