American Mobility

Americans have been known for being more mobile than other nationalities. Myself, my family and most of the people I know have moved multiple times to multiple states for multiple reasons, but typically for a job or to take care of an elderly parent. The Economist had an interesting article that mentioned changes in American and European mobility. From the article:

The percentage of Americans who move across state lines each year has fallen by half since the 1990s. The typical American is more footloose than the average European, yet lives less than 30 kilometres from his parents. Demographic shifts help explain this, including the rise in two-earner households and the need to care for ageing family members. But the bigger culprit is poor policies. Soaring housing costs in prosperous cities keep newcomers out. In Europe a scarcity of social housing leads people to hang on to cheap flats. In America the spread of state-specific occupational licensing and government benefits punishes those who move. The pension of a teacher who stays in the same state could be twice as big as that of a teacher who moves mid-career.

I can certainly believe that US housing prices are stopping people from relocating.

Each year just over 2% of Americans move across state lines, whereas only 1.5% of Europeans move between regions within their home country. Despite the freedom of movement created by the EU’s single market, only 0.37% move from one country to another. But mobility in America is on the decline.

It is very surprising to me that only 0.37% of Europeans move between countries. I understand wanting to stay around family, but it seems like one of the main opportunities of EU membership is the ability for individuals to pursue employment opportunities in other countries.


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