In 1971, the great Carole King sang: “So far away/ Doesn’t anyone stay in one place anymore?” Thirty years later, the editors of The New York Times explained that families in the United States are changing because of “the ever-growing mobility of Americans.” And in 2010, a psychologist argued that “an increased rate of residential mobility played a role in the historical shift” toward individualism. It’s a common U.S. lament that human bonds are fraying because people are moving around more and more. Americans fear the fracturing of communities that constant moving seems to bring.
Yet when King sang, Americans had been moving around less and less for generations. That decline was even more obvious when the Times editorial appeared in 2001, and it has continued to decline through the 2010s. The increasingly mobile U.S. is a myth that refuses to move on. . . . . . . . This essay (which expands on a 2010 post) continues at the online site, Aeon, here.
Update (Feb. 19, 2017):
A Pew report finds that there was a big drop in the moving rates of 25-35-year-olds of the current generation compared to members of generations of the previous few decades when they were 25 to 35: See here.