Comparison of Youth Migration Patterns Across Cohorts: Evidence from Two National Longitudinal Survey of Youth

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This research is a systematic comparison of youth migration experiences between two birth cohorts, using the first ten rounds of two national longitudinal surveys of youth, NLSY79 and NLSY97. Results show both changes and continuities in youth migration patterns across cohorts for ages16-25. Specifically, youth today have a delayed but stronger migration momentum than the late baby boom generation, the dividing point being at age 22. Women are more likely to migrate than men in the recent cohort, but not in the older cohort. Whites migrate considerably more than blacks and Hispanics consistently across cohorts. The likely life events in youth’s transition to adulthood are important indicators of youth’s migration propensity for both cohorts. Particularly, graduating with a bachelor’s degree is the most powerful predictor of youth’s migration propensity. Other life events such as getting married; becoming separated, divorced, or widowed; dropping out of college; and losing a job are also significantly associated with youth migration. In general, the effects of these life events on youth’s migration propensity are weakened across cohorts, but the importance of having a college degree on migration propensity has been increasing.

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