Wishful thinking and the abandonment of moving desires over the life course

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2013


Many longitudinal analyses of residential mobility decision making use two or three waves of panel survey data to investigate who fulfils their moving desires. Few studies have, however, focused upon individuals who desire to move but who remain residentially immobile, either because it takes them a long time to relocate or because they abandon their moving desire. This is problematic, as undesired residential immobility could have negative consequences for individual well-being and prosperity. To address this research gap, this study uses 1991–2008 British Household Panel Survey data to analyse the duration and abandonment of moving desires. Importantly, the results show that the risk of abandoning a desire to move rises dramatically with age, suggesting that the well-documented residential rootedness of older people is not solely volitional. Event-history analysis shows that these patterns are partly due to changing levels of ties and commitments over the life course. By demonstrating that ethnicity and income are also linked to the fulfilment of moving desires, the findings contribute to our understanding of the processes producing both social inequality and neighbourhood stratification.

Published in

Environment and Planning: A

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 45 , p.1 -1







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