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Migration as a Constrained Decision Process
Mchugh, Kevin Eugene
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The purpose of this research is to further our understanding of migration as a constrained decision process. A theoretical model is developed that explains migration intentions and predicts behavior in terms of social psychological and situational determinants. The social psychological component of the model incorporates attitudinal factors, the social influence of others, and anticipated constraints as determinants of migration intentions. The situational component incorporates demographic characteristics, social and economic ties to the community and to potential migration destinations, and location characteristics that define the structure of opportunities at the macrolevel. The model is tested using longitudinal survey data for a panel of 167 households sampled from two metropolitan counties, Champaign County, Illinois and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
Major findings include: (1) Short-term migration intentions are strong but not perfect predictors of behavior. (2) Anticipated constraints to moving influence migration intentions indirectly through the attitude and social influence factors but also exert a direct effect on intentions. (3) Attitude toward moving is shaped by beliefs concerning expected outcomes of moving, particularly beliefs pertaining to jobs, social affiliation (family and community), and environmental amenities. (4) Migration decisions occur within a particular social context. Persons who influence migration decisions of the individual include partner, other household members, family and relatives, and close friends. (5) Place ties developed over the life course are instrumental in shaping potential destinations for prospective migrants, including ties based upon family and friends, previous residence, repeated vacations, and property ownership. (6) Demographic characteristics are related to migration behavior indirectly through the various psychological determinants. For example, anticipated constraints to moving, particularly job constraints, are related to level of education. (7) Migration desires and level of community satisfaction are only moderate predictors of migration intentions and behavior because they do not capture the influence of situational constraints in the migration decision process.
Two implications of the research stand out most clearly. The first is that a social psychological perspective offers considerable potential for furthering our understanding of migration at the microlevel. The second and most important implication is that migration, including social psychological aspects, must be viewed within a broad situational and temporal context.