Posts Tagged ‘residence’

The Myth that Never Moves

In a new book on the social costs of economic inequality — a book otherwise reasonable and well-documented — appears a long paragraph that the authors clearly thought needed no footnote or references, because it was so obvious. It is a paragraph about the social costs of increasing residential mobility. It reads in part:

People used to grow up knowing, and being known by, many of the same people all of their lives. Although geographical mobility had been increasing for several generations, the last half-century has seen a particularly rapid rise.

The authors go on to list and to bemoan the consequences, such as people’s identities being “cast adrift” and now “endlessly open to question” (Wilkinson and Pickett, The Spirit Level, 2009, p. 42).

This premise of increasing mobility, alas, is wrong, at least for the United States. It is more than wrong — the truth is exactly the opposite: Geographical mobility has been on the decline for generations.

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