Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 731–733 | Cite as

Book Review: Internal Migration in the Developed World. Are We Becoming Less Mobile? T. Champion, T. Cooke, and I. Shuttleworth (Eds.). Routledge

  • Frances Darlington-PollockEmail author

Cooke (2011, 2013) reported that Americans, a population where migration has long-seemed an ingrained habit, were moving less. Though others had previously come to similar findings, Cooke’s evidence was intriguing. Champion and Shuttleworth (2017) then questioned whether a comparable pattern was to be observed in the UK given shared experiences of social, demographic and economic change: the answer seemed to be no. This trio of papers and their contrasting conclusions inspired the three authors to extend their focus across the developed world, producing this edited volume. Drawing in particular on a set of in-depth country analyses, the book’s primary two aims are to identify and explain long-term patterns and trends in internal migration. The third aim reflects the endeavour to connect discussions of internal migration to other forms of population mobility thus, as the editors’ note, engaging critically with the New Mobilities Paradigm.

The opening chapters in Part I establish some of the theoretical context for the book; summarise the methodological challenges associated with cross-national comparative work; and outline global trends in internal migration. As a text-book for novice migration researchers, these opening chapters are enlightening. Theoretically, this is reflected in the varied discussion of the New Mobilities Paradigm, Zelinsky’s Migration Transition (see Chapter 1) and Green’s highly informative contribution disentangling the possible influence of the many drivers of internal migration (Chapter 2), to name but a few. Indeed Green’s efforts culminate in an impressively comprehensive table capturing how different demographic, macro-economic, technological and societal factors may lead to increases or decreases in different types of migration (long-distance; short-distance; circulation). Methodologically, Stillwell, Bell and Shuttleworth usefully reflect on the challenges and limitations associated with the subsequent empirical chapters as a form of comparative research (Chapter 3). This complements efforts within the in-depth country analyses to clearly explain the methods used. Even aside from the theoretical contributions of this book, the combined summaries of data types, measurement issues and methods for studying internal migration is invaluable. The final chapter for Part I (Chapter 4) provides an overview of findings from the IMAGE project, an international collaboration collating data on internal migration for 153 countries and outputting different migration indicators. Their findings set the empirical context for the book, highlighting that falling migration intensities are not confined to countries in one particular part of the world, nor are they a feature of a particular stage of national development. Further, [w]here countries register declining migration at one level of scale, this is generally replicated at other scales. The likely influence of population ageing is made clear in this chapter, something that appears throughout, yet important too is a need to understand the particular influences of country-specific factors.

Part II contains country-specific analyses of long-term trends in internal migration for the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Germany and Italy (Chapters 5–11), collating work from an impressive roll-call of migration experts across the developed world.Their conclusions, as the editors go on to summarise, are diverse. While this review will not seek to replicate the editors’ summary of those chapters, some aspects are worth highlighting. For example, it is nice to see Cooke’s update of his previous work in the USA revisiting neglected explanations for changing migration intensities first offered by the likes of Rogerson (1987), Plane and Rogerson (1991) and Pandit (1997). Here, Cooke examines whether and how the size of different cohorts may impede internal migration by constraining labour market and housing opportunities. For the UK, Lomax and Stillwell raise a number of questions that could shape future research priorities: given the looming spectre of BREXIT and the likely economic impacts, questioning the precise nature of the relationship between economic cycles and national migration intensities may be important. Sander’s use of the relatively limited available data for Germany emphasises the importance of efforts to disaggregate analyses of internal migration: despite relative stability in overall internal migration intensities, stratifying by age reveals substantial variations. As much of the world’s population ages, it is evidently important to understand age-differentiated patters of internal migration.

Part III concludes the book, beginning with Frey’s speculation as to the future of internal. Frey’s reflections (Chapter 12) on the relationship between internal and international migration are particularly interesting as this is an under-explored area: while Green hypothesises that increasing international migration may result in an increase in internal migration (Chapter 2), this is country-specific. For example, Bell et al. (Chapter 7) find that international migration is not an important trigger of internal migration in Australia. Discussions of change in internal migration perhaps need to be better united with those on international migration. Halfacree (Chapter 13) then provides an interesting and nuanced discussion of how we should situate internal migration within an era of Mobilities while also expanding our focus to immobility or settlement practices. Interest in (im)mobility is a burgeoning field, and this chapter is a useful framing of it. The book then closes with a review and agenda-setting conclusion from the editors (Chapter 14), offering readers another highly informative comprehensive table summarising the findings of the included chapters. The simple answer to the title question, are we [the developed world] becoming less mobile, is no. However, they implore readers not to beat a hasty retreat from overarching explanations of migration trends, and define a new agenda for research. Notably, this agenda calls for a more grounded … political economy approach and one that gets to the bottom of how and why national differences and contexts matter.

Early on in this review, the value of this book as a text for novice migration researchers was highlighted. However, this book’s readership should extend beyond students of migration. Understanding changing patterns of internal migration can inform discussions around economic policy, housing markets, labour markets, social inequalities and segregation: this book begins to shed light on how.


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Conflict of Interest

The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography & PlanningUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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