Older Adults and Nonmetro Population Growth: Toward a Life Course Theory of Migration

Nan E. Johnson, Michigan State University

I analyzed the 1992-2004 waves of the national Health and Retirement Survey. In 1992, study respondents had an average age of 56 and about 10% were retired. In 2004, they had an average age of 68 and a 58% majority were retired. About 18% migrated at least once during the 12 years. Event history analysis revealed that transitions in retirement, marital and health statuses were critical in pulling older adults into migration streams and routing their destinations to nonmetro retirement/recreation (R/R) counties, all other nonmetro counties or metro counties. Of special interest is the finding that worsening health unexpectedly raised the odds of migration to nonmetro R/R counties. Therefore, the life course theory appears useful in interpreting older adult migration circa retirement (Stage-1 migration). Future research should explore how changes in older adults' health affect their chances of and directions of migration in the post-retirement stages of the life course.

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Presented in Session 192: Retirement Transitions