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Analysis of the Influence of Social Relations on Migration Intention: Focusing on Local Social Capital and Subjective Socioeconomic Status

  • YeonKyeong Lee
  • Seung Jong LeeEmail author
Original Research Article
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Abstract

Migration intention of residents has become an important issue for the local governments as they have been experiencing an exodus of the residents to other regions topped with the country’s low birthrate that naturally results in the population decrease. Hence, this study explores the determinants of migration intention of residents in South Korea (hereafter Korea), with special focus on the social relationship within the community. In detail, this study attempts to prove if the two aspects of the social relations within the community - local social capital and individual subjective socioeconomic status - have an effect on the migration intention. Furthermore, the study has been conducted by separating urban and rural areas. The results of the analysis reveal that individual subjective SES had a greater influence in rural areas, whereas, it was the local social capital in urban areas. This result can be explained by the difference of the ‘individual anonymity’ between urban and rural areas. In rural areas, where the anonymity of individuals is relatively low due to the active interactions between neighbors, the influence of individual subjective socioeconomic status can have a great effect. On the other hand, in urban areas, where the anonymity of individual is relatively high, the influence of local social capital may have a greater effect on migration intention.

Keywords

Migration intention Local social capital Subjective socioeconomic status 

Introduction

Korea has been suffering from decline in population and low birthrate. While the natural population decline is of concern to the whole country, social population decrease, which refers to the exodus of residents to other regions, is becoming an important issue for the country’s local governments. How many people reside within the region is a crucial factor for existence and independence of local governments. This is because Korea’s population is concentrated in metropolitan cities and some specific regions (Lee 2018).

Migration of residents alters the level of social, economic, human, cultural capitals within a community, which can subsequently have diverse impact on the community well-being (Winkler et al. 2012; Ulrich-Schad et al. 2013). Population change is significant because it affects the growth and decline of region (Hong and Yoo 2012). Hence, migration intention can be an important factor for the local governments. This can also be an indicator to see how satisfied the residents are with the services the local governments offer, and to be taken into consideration for future planning of local governments. Therefore, migration intention of residents is in itself significant information, even though the actual migration and migration intention may not coincide.

Nevertheless, research on this field of migration intention has somewhat been lacking in Korea. Therefore, this study attempts to explore the determinants of migration intention of residents in Korea. This research focuses on social relations among many factors of determinants of migration intention, especially on two aspects of social relations, which are local social capital and individual subjective socioeconomic status (hereafter subjective SES). The former focuses on the collective level and the latter on the individual level of social relations. In short, this research examines the influences of the two aspects of social relations - local social capital and subjective SES - on the migration intention of residents.

The reason for focusing on the ‘social relations’ in this study is because social capital, which many previous overseas focus on as one of the major determinants of migration intention, may not be the case for Korea. For the past 60 years, Korea has experienced rapid industrialization and urbanization and this resulted in the stagnation and collapse of the rural communities, while creating underdeveloped urban communities. Therefore, it is difficult to evaluate that the local social capital of community has vitalized (Lee 2006). In this regard, local social capital might not be a major factor that affects the behavior and perception of individuals. Rather, subjective SES, self-evaluation about their own position within the community could have greater influence on the migration intention, given that the competition and individualism in Korea intensify each day.

Therefore, this paper not only explores whether local social capital has an effect on migration intention in Korea, but also whether subjective SES has an influence on migration intention. Many of the previous studies have identified that in such a highly competitive society like Korea, subjective SES, such as how one evaluates their own status, affects the level of happiness and satisfaction. Therefore, subjective SES in the local community can also have an affect the migration intention of the residents.

Lastly, this study further analyzed whether the influence of social relations on migration intention in urban and rural areas is different. As a result of examining the influence of social relations on the migration intention, it was confirmed that community characteristics are a very important factor in Korea. Therefore, we analyzed whether the influence of social relations on migration intention is different according to the characteristics of objective condition of community.

This analysis has several implications as follows. This study analyzed the influence of social relations on migration intention, taking into account the unique characteristics of social relations in Korea. This study also complements the lack of research on the determinants of the migration intention in Korean context. Moreover, it can provide local governments experiencing population decline problems with information on the factors that can influence the migration intention of residents.

Previous Research and Hypotheses

Migration Intention

The Importance of Migration Intention

Migration intention usually refers to a resident’s intention to leave his or her present community within some period (usually within a period of three to five years) (Speare 1974; Ulrich-Schad et al. 2013). Migration intention could be an important variable to local governments that feel a sense of crisis regarding population decline.

Today, Korea is faced with diverse issues caused by low birthrate and aging society. Most of the local governments, excluding some metropolitan areas, are also experiencing various problems caused by population decrease. Decline in population of a local region leads to the decrease in local tax, reduction in local finances as well as the down size of the administrative organizations. AS a result, it can deteriorate the level of quality and quantity of the local public service as a whole. This leads to the vicious cycle of population outflow, and triggers local hollowization and regional polarization (Lee 2016; Yoon and Han 2018). Hence, local governments try to maintain and increase the population within the region, and therefore, residents’ migration intention is of very important concern for the local governments.

By putting together previous studies (Rossi 1955; Speare 1974; Wolpert 1965), the process of making migration decision is as follows. Residents evaluate their current community and neighbors and either feel satisfied or dissatisfied on the basis of their evaluation. If their dissatisfaction level of the current community exceeds the threshold, they either try to adjust and continue to live in their current region, or consider moving to a different area. If they do consider to migrate, they first search for a new location by comparing various factors with the alternative regions and if they do find a satisfying alternative, they finally decide to move. If they fail to find a satisfying alternative, they decide to stay in the current region.

Through the process of migration decision, the following findings have been confirmed. First is that the ‘residential satisfaction’ is a crucial factor that affects their migration intention. If the level of satisfaction with the current residence is high, the willingness to reside becomes high; however, if the level of dissatisfaction exceeds the threshold, people start to consider about migrating.

Second is that migration intention doesn’t always mean actual migration. In other words, consideration of migration does not always lead to actual migration (Speare 1974: 177). Even if migration is considered, migration does not occur if the appropriate alternative area is not found. Even if there is an alternative, if a resident sees no advantage compared to his or her present region, migration does not occur. Or, even if the willingness to live in the current area is high, a resident can also decide to migrate due to individual/household reasons, including work shift or divorce (Speare 1974: 175).

Therefore, residential satisfaction alone does not determine the actual migration or the decision to migrate. Nevertheless, prior studies have shown that migration intention generally reflects behavior and patterns of actual migration (Lansing and Mueller 1967; Von Reichert 2006; Speare 1974). Therefore, previous studies have emphasized migration intention as an important variable in migration studies.

The Determinants of Migration Intention

As we have seen, ‘residential satisfaction’ is a decisive factor for the residents’ migration intention. The ‘residential satisfaction model’ of Speare (1974), one of the major models of migration study, is a representative study in the early years of the research in this field (Oh 2003). Speare (1974) states that most of the background factors (e.g. age, income) indirectly influences the migration intention and that the key factor of migration intention is ‘residential satisfaction’. He classifies the influential factors of migration intention largely into background factors and residential satisfaction, and background factors are again divided into individual/household factors, local factors, and social bonds with other people (friends and relatives).

The classification structure of determinants of migration intention presented in previous studies are diverse. In general, the factors are divided into individual/households vs. regional vs. psychological characteristics (Oh 2003; Von Reichert 2006) or economic vs. non-economic characteristics (e.g. satisfaction, evaluation, preference) (Heaton et al. 1979). Here, individual or regional characteristics include social relations (e.g. social bonds).

Considering the preceding studies, this study suggests the following classification structure of determinants of migration intention. The determinants of migration intention can be fundamentally divided into individual / household, social relation and community factors. The determinants of migration intention can be divided into three major characteristics: individual / household, social relations, and local community (Table 1).
Table 1

Determinants of Migration Intentions

Component

Variables

Previous studies

Individual or Household

Life cycle

Age

Kan and Kim (1981)

Von Reichert (2006)

Speare (1974)

Marital status

Kan and Kim (1981), Oh (2003)

Household size

Kan and Kim (1981)

Objective SES

Household income

Kan and Kim (1981), Oh (2003), Ulrich-Schad et al. (2013)

Education

Kan and Kim (1981)

Speare Jr et al. (1982)

Ulrich-Schad et al. (2013)

Employed status

Kan and Kim (1981), Oh (2003)

etc

Gender

Oh (2003)

Ulrich-Schad et al. (2013)

Home ownership

Kan and Kim (1981), Oh (2003)

Speare (1974)

Duration of residence

Kan and Kim (1981), Oh (2003)

Speare Jr et al. (1982)

Von Reichert (2006)

Social relation

Individual social bonds

Friends & Relatives

Kan and Kim (1981)

Oh (2003)

Speare (1974)

Community social bonds

Trust

Participation

Cohesion

Attachment

Oh (2003)

Ulrich-Schad et al. (2013)

Speare Jr et al. (1982)

Community

Objective condition

Community size & density

Von Reichert (2006)

community economic structure

Ulrich-Schad et al. (2013)

Von Reichert (2006)

Attitude (psychology)

Community evaluation - > satisfaction

Kan and Kim (1981), Oh (2003)

Speare (1974)

Speare Jr et al. (1982)

Ulrich-Schad et al. (2013)

Von Reichert (2006)

First, the individual / household can be further classified into life cycle factors (age, marital status, household size), objective socioeconomic characteristics (household income, education, employed status), and other factors (gender, home ownership, duration of residence).

According to the results of the previous researches, age, home ownership, and duration of residence greatly influence the residents’ migration intention. As age increases, income and seniority privileges tend to increase, which raises satisfaction in itself, and through the same way as buying a house by increased income, residential satisfaction can be enhanced and thus migration intention can be decreased (Speare 1974; Oh, 2003). The duration of residence is also a major factor of migration intention. McGinnis (1968) describes this as the axiom of cumulative inertia. That is, as the residing duration escalates, the probability of moving is reduced. Speare (1974) explains that the longer the duration of residence, the easier it is for social bonds to be formed. In other words, longer residence duration can be followed by having more friends and becoming more familiar with local facilities and services, which in turn, allow residents to have higher satisfaction and willingness to reside. Home ownership is also considered to be a very significant factor of decreasing the migration intention, as a home owner is motivated to improve the community, allowing for investment in local amenity and social capital (Rohe and Stewart 1996).

Second, the characteristics of social relations can be divided into to two dimensions, individual and local. With regard to individual aspect, the presence of friends and relatives in the community influences migration intention. This signifies social bonds at an individual level, and affects adaptation and satisfaction of the community (Kan and Kim 1981; Speare 1974). With regard to local aspect, it signifies social bonds at local level such as having trust in other residents, participating in community activities, having a sense of attachment and belonging to the community. Many previous studies have reported that the higher the local social capital, the lower the intention to migrate and the higher the intention to reside (Oh 2003; Speare 1974). Here, the term ‘social bonds’ that get frequently used in migration research, refers generally to social capital.

Lastly, local characteristics that influence migration intention include objective condition aspect and psychological attitude aspect. For the objective condition, the size of a region, population density, economic structure and conditions are found to be some of the influential factors, according to the findings of previous studies (Ulrich-Schad et al. 2013; Von Reichert 2006). For example, small rural areas that are geographically remote from a large city were found to have a relatively low willingness to reside, thus having population outflow (Ulrich-Schad et al. 2013). As it can be seen from the process of migration decision, the evaluation and satisfaction towards the community of residents as the psychological attitudes can be crucial on the migration intention (Kan et al., 1981; Oh 2003; Speare 1974; Ulrich-Schad et al. 2013; Von Reichert 2006).

Local Social Capital and Migration Intention

Concepts and Components of Local Social Capital

Social capital refers to connections between individuals, as well as social network, reciprocity, and trust that arise from it. The core of social capital theory is that social network carries great value, and stresses that our lives can become more abundant through social bond. Such social capital has two aspects, personal (personal interests) and collective (public interests) (Putnam 2000).

More specifically, the ‘concept’ and ‘core factors’ of representative scholars on social capital are as follows. First, Bourdieu (1986) defines social capital as “a realistic or potential aggregation of acquaintance and recognition possessing an institutionalized and persistent network of relationships”. Coleman (1988) assumes humans as rational actors and defined social capital as a special type of resource embedded within the structure of relations between actors and actors. In particular, he regarded ‘trust’ and ‘norms’ as important factors. Putnam (2000) defined it as “the qualities of social organizations such as trust, norms, and networks that enable participants to collaborate more effectively by sharing goals”. He pointed out trust, social networks, civic engagement as components of the social capital (Lee 2013), and argues that as social capital becomes larger and more diverse, citizens and voluntary participation could particularly be promoted (Lee 2009).

To summarize the common attributes of social capital, it is based on ‘social relations.’ It is the ability of an actor to benefit as a member of a social network or social relations structure (Portes 1998) at an individual level, and the sum of social trust, norms, and networks that people can rely on to solve common problems (Lang and Hornburg 1998) at the collective level. Since this study focuses on social capital at the local level, social capital here is defined as a collective resource that social members get through social interaction (Gu and Park 2015).

Although the major components of social capital differs by scholars, factors such as trust, network, social norms, public participation, citizen participation, and cooperation are primarily mentioned. This study considers ‘trust’ and ‘network’ as common core components, since individuals’ attitudes toward social networks are expressed through trust (Lee 2013) when social capital is formed through interdependence and social interaction among members of society (La Due Lake and Huckfeldt 1998).

This trust and network also represent the multidimensional nature of the social capital. Social capital with multidimensional attributes can be broadly divided into two dimensions: cognitive and structural. The former refers to individuals’ subjective perceptions and qualitative aspects of social relations including trust, reciprocity, and norms, and the latter refers to the objective and quantitative aspects of social relations including social participation and citizenship activities (Lu et al. 2017: 3). In this context, trust is a cognitive characteristic, and network has a structural characteristic. Trust here refers to having belief in reciprocity in exchange of resources (Lee 2009), and network refers to individuals or groups having a linkage structure within social relations (Kim 2010).

Local Social Capital and Migration Intentions

Previously, this study has classified the determinants of migration intention largely into three characteristics: individual / household, social relations, and community. Local social capital comes under community social bonds among the characteristics of social relations. As mentioned earlier, social capital, which represents the characteristics of social relations at the community level, is analyzed as a major determinant of migration intention. Having trust in the local community and participating in activities in local organizations can enhance the local satisfaction and lower the migration intention of residents. Previous studies have shown that social capital improves subjective well-being (Kim and Shin 2017), subjective health status (Kim 2010), regional development (Lim and Jung 2017) and local identity (Lee 2013) etc. In this respect, positive effects on various aspects of social capital raises the residential satisfaction, therefore, positively impact the residents’ intention of continuing to reside (Speare 1974).

However, in the case of Korea, it should be verified whether the local social capital would have a great influence on migration intention. The community identity and social capital based on the region are formed through long-term interaction and accumulated experience within the community. However, as for Korea, which has experienced rapid urbanization that resulted in large-scale population movement, it is difficult to expect the development of a community identity based on regionalism.

With insufficient development of local communities due to rapid urbanization, traditional communities tend to be transformed into nepotism, and the individualism of members of society is rather strengthened (Lee 2006; 40). Therefore, the social capital of the region is insufficient and its influence on the migration intention can be weak in the case of Korea. According to results of the “2017 Community Wellbeing National Survey”, which asked about ‘important factors to consider when deciding where to live’, social capital factor (1.4%) had the lowest importance. Economic factors (45.2%), cultural (16.2%), and infrastructure (13.6%) factors were the most important determinants of migration decision in Korea.

In this regard, it is necessary to verify whether the local social relation, which is emphasized in overseas studies, is also a significant factor that affects migration intention in Korea as well. As in the previous studies, the hypothesis of this study is that the higher the social capital, the lower the migration intention.
  • Hypothesis 1: The higher the social capital, the lower the migration intention.

Subjective Socioeconomic Status and Migration Intentions

Subjective socioeconomic status refers to a cognitive perception of an individual’s hierarchical position on socioeconomic structure (Singh-Manoux et al. 2003). This is internalization of their position in the socioeconomic hierarchy through the process of internal comparison in social interaction, and it is meaningful as an independent indicator that reflects a subtle part that objective socioeconomic status fails to capture (Kim and Yoo 2017: 48). Nevertheless, previous studies have not addressed the subjective socioeconomic status as a factor of migration intention.

However, given the fact that community attachment of residents is influenced by their own social position within local society (Von Reichert 2006), the subjective SES can be an influential factor of migration intention. In addition, many previous studies have found that subjective social status affects various factors such as health or quality of life, satisfaction, and happiness, etc.

Considering that the residential satisfaction has a great influence on migration intention, subjective SES within community may affect the residential satisfaction and migration intention. In addition, considering the characteristic of the Korean society where there’s lack of sense of community based on locality while there’s intensified competition and individualism, subjective SES within community can be a stronger factor than the local social capital factor for residential satisfaction and migration intention.

Therefore, this study sets the following hypotheses.
  • Hypothesis 2: The higher the subjective socioeconomic status, the lower the migration intention.

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of social relations within community on migration intention, focusing on the above hypotheses.

Method

Data and the Characteristics of Sample

The data used for this study is: “2017 Community Wellbeing National Survey.” It is a survey conducted by the Korean Institute of Public Affairs, Community Wellbeing Research Center, to measure the level of community wellbeing of Korea and to seek policy directions for community wellbeing. Respondents were asked to answer 37 core questions that evaluates their community and individual satisfaction level as residents. There were also a number of questions regarding satisfaction of life as well as their quality of life, etc.

The survey population includes 27 local governing regions nationwide and the respondents were aged 19 years and over. The samples were extracted by the proportion of population by gender / age after forced allocation by 100 persons by region. The survey was conducted from October to November 2017 through face - to - face interview survey using structured questionnaires. Among 2700 valid samples, 2611 samples excluding 89 with missing data were analyzed in this study. Demographic characteristics of respondents are as follows (Table 2).
Table 2

Demographic Characteristics of Sample

Variables

Educational attainment

Freque-ncy (person)

Proportion (%)

Variables

Social status

Freque-ncy (person)

Proportion (%)

Level

Less than Elementary School

202

7.5

Gender

Male

1,339

49.6

Middle School

292

10.9

Female

1,361

50.4

High School

1,144

42.5

Marital status

Single

522

19.4

College or University

1,011

37.6

Married

2,063

76.6

Above Graduate School

40

1.5

Divorce

Separation

Bereavement

109

4.1

No answer

11

0.4

No answer

6

0.2

Household income

Less than 1 million won

108

4.0

Religion

Religion

Buddhism

347

12.9

Over 1 million won ~ less than 2 million won

317

11.8

Protestant

465

17.2

Over 2 million won ~ less than 3 million won

441

16.4

Catholic

146

5.4

Over 3 million won ~ less than 4 million won

625

23.2

Other

2

0.1

Over 4 million ~ less than 5 million won

540

20.1

No religion

1740

64.4

Over 5 million won ~ less than 6 million wo

394

14.7

 

N = 2,700

Over 6 million won

264

9.8

 

No answer

11

0.4

 

Measurement of Variables

Dependent Variable: Migration Intention

In the survey, which is the data of this study, there is a following question related to migration intention: “How willing are you to continue to live in your current region?” And respondents were asked to scale their intention from 1 (very low) to 10 (very high), where 10 indicates that the respondents are very willing to continue to reside in the current region. Therefore, in this study, the reverse order recording was performed and analyzed. The higher the number, the higher the intention to migrate.

Independent Variable 1: Local Social Capital

Local social capital refers to trusts, norms and social networks that emerge from links between individuals, and is composed of personal interests (individual aspects) and public interests (collective aspects) (Putnam 2000). Although the level of measurement of social capital varies from person to nation (De Silva et al. 2005), this study focuses on social capital at the local level, and defines social capital as a collective resource that is obtained through the social interaction of community members (Gu and Park 2015).

This study focuses on trust, network, and bond at the local level as a sub-component of social capital. Although social capital is expressed in a variety of ways, including social trust, reciprocity, citizen participation and community networks (Lu et al. 2017), core components of social capital are trust and network as individuals’ attitudes toward social networks appear through trust.

In addition, this study will add ‘social bonds’ as a key element of social capital. The term ‘social capital’ has the same meaning but simply a different way of expressing to the term ‘social bonds’ emphasized frequently in prior studies of migration intention. However, ‘social bonds’ can also refer to network and sense of unity and solidarity. Therefore, this study will include social bonds that previous researches emphasize as an additional factor that differs from ‘trust.’

Specific measurements are as follows. First, trust was measured with a question, “How satisfied are you with the trust you have towards local residents or the government?” As for the network, a question, “how satisfied are you regarding the participation of community organizations?” was asked, while ‘bonds’ was measured with a question, “how satisfied are you with the closeness of the community and cooperation activities?” Here, as network is difficult to measure as itself, it has been broken down to scoring ‘activities’ and ‘participation’ within the network structure.

As social capital is an intangible resource in the structure of relationships among actors, it is more difficult to measure than other capitals. For this reason, previous studies have measured social capital as a phenomenon perceived by individuals (Gu and Park 2015, 57). Although measuring social capital as ‘perceived social capital’ may differ from objectively existing social capital, researching perceived social capital is a meaningful alternative (Gu and Park, 2015). It is because social capital must undergo a ‘cognitive process’ before it can affect an individual’s behavior.

The responses of each question consisted of a 10-point scale (1 = highly dissatisfied ~ 10 = very satisfied), and local social capital has been evaluated with the mean value of the standardized scores for trust, network, and bonds.

Independent Variable 2: Subjective Socioeconomic Status within Community

In this study, the subjective SES was measured using the following questions: “Where do you think your SES belongs in your community? Please score it using the scale from ① the lowest class, to ⑨ the highest class.” In other words, the responses were taken using a 9-point scale, and the higher the score, the higher the socioeconomic status within the region.

Control Variables: Individual/Household and Community Characteristics

In this study, we controlled individual / household characteristics and regional characteristics that have been confirmed in previous researches to influence residents’ migration intention.

First, this study considers age, marital status, gender, household size, household income, education, employment status, home ownership, and duration of residence as personal / household characteristics and residential satisfaction and urban and rural separation as community characteristics. The dummy variables were gender (male = 0, female = 1), economic activity (inactivity = 0, activity = 1), ownership status (no-ownership = 0, ownership = 1).

Other variables were measured as follows: age as full age; marital status as (1) unmarried, (2) married, (3) divorced, or (4) separated; educational attainment as (1) elementary school, (2) middle school, (3) high school, (4) college and university, and (5) graduate school or higher.

This study used regional satisfaction variables to control the subjective regional characteristics and analyzed the urban and rural areas separately to control the objective regional characteristics. First, residential satisfaction was measured as the sum of satisfaction using a total of 28 questions about local conditions and states. The results of the confirmatory factor analysis of 28 items measuring residential satisfaction showed that the factor loadings of all the measurement items were 0.50 or more (lowest: 0.58), statistically significant, and the Cronbach’s value was 0.96. The response is on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = very unsatisfied ~ 10 = very satisfied), and the higher the value, the higher the local satisfaction.

In addition, the urban and rural areas are generally classified according to local population size, rurality, economic dependency, etc. (Ulrich-Schad et al. 2013; Von Reichert 2006). this study classified urban and rural areas according to the classification table of the local governments of the directive of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (① large city type, ② small and medium city type, ③ limited urban type, ④ rural and city mixed type, ⑤ rural type). In this study, the rural and rural /city mixed type were classified into rural type and the rest were classified into urban/city type. The study has separated urban and rural areas for the analysis.

Method

In this study, multiple regression analysis was conducted to analyze the effects of local social capital and subjective SES on the residents’ migration intention. In this case, there is a high possibility of having multicollinearity problems occur, because both independent variables are those related to social relations.

To solve this problem, two variables have been centered and analyzed in this study (Jaccard et al., 1990, b). As a result of the VIF test, it was confirmed that mutilcollinearity is not a problem because VIF of all variables was less than 10. And this study attempts to use a heteroskedasticity-robust standard error, because the results of Breusch-Pagan test showed heteroscedasticity of this analysis.

Results

Descriptive Statistics and Correlations of Variables

The descriptive statistics of the main variables in this study are shown in Table 3. The average migration intention of residents was 3.78, and the average local social capital was 6.54. The perception of subjective SES is 4.68 on average, which means that they perceive their SES within the community as an average middle class (middle class = 5). Local satisfaction was 6.91 points on average. The average of household size is 3 persons (③ three) and the average duration of residence was 293 months, i.e. 24 years and 4 months.
Table 3

Descriptive Statistics

 

Variable

Obs

Mean

Std. Dev.

Min

Max

Dependent v.

Migration intention

2700

3.78

1.37

1

10

Independent v.

Local social capital

2700

6.54

1.18

1

10

Subjective SES

2695

4.68

1.17

1

9

Control v.

Community satisfaction

2634

6.91

1.00

2.5

9.21

Age

2700

48.81

15.24

19

88

Marital status

2694

1.85

0.46

1

3

Gender dummy

2700

0.50

0.50

0

1

Household size

2695

3.00

1.06

1

6

Household income

2689

4.33

1.77

1

11

Education

2689

3.15

0.91

1

5

Employed status dummy

2700

0.72

0.45

0

1

Home ownership dummy

2692

0.77

0.42

0

1

Duration of residence

2695

292.03

220.00

3

1044

The results of correlation test are as follows. Migration intention showed a high negative correlation in order of, local satisfaction, community capital, and subjective SES. As for the local social capital, there was a strong positive correlation with residential satisfaction (0.76). The subjective SES was significantly correlated with all variables with the significance level of 0.05%. In particular, the subjective SES was positively correlated in orders of household income (0.42), education (0.33), household size (0.23), employed status (0.17). It means that objective SES and subjective SES are highly correlated. In addition, subjective SES has a significant positive correlation with local social capital.

Results of Analysis

This study analyzed the influence of two aspects (local social capital and subjective SES) of social relations within community on migration intention. Table 4 shows the results of the analysis.
Table 4

Results of Regression Analysis

 

Entire region

Beta

Robust S.E.

I.V.

Social capital

−0.09

***

0.05

Subjective SES

−0.07

***

0.03

C.V.

Community

Community satisfaction

−0.43

***

0.00

Urban-rural dummy

+0.15

***

Individual or Household

Age

0.02

0.00

Marital status

−0.07

***

0.08

Gender dummy

0.03

*

0.05

Household size

0.04

**

0.03

Household income

−0.05

**

0.02

Education

0.07

**

0.04

Employed status dummy

−0.01

0.06

Home ownership dummy

−0.01

0.06

Duration of residence

−0.00

0.00

N

2611

F(df)

(13, 2597)

48.79

R 2

0.25

vif

1.86

* p < .1; ** p < .05; *** p < .01. Beta: standardized coefficient

Values in bold show statistical significance

The Effects of Social Relations on Migration Intention: Hypothesis 1, 2

Table 4 shows the results of analysis on the relationship between local social capital and subjective socioeconomic status, and immigration intention. The higher the perception of local social capital and individual subjective SES, the lower migration intention.

This study focuses on the fact that the social capital based on the region is not fully developed due to the rapid industrialization and urbanization of Korea, and deepened competition and individualism. Therefore, the perception of individual’s subjective SES rather than the local social capital may be a more important factor in migration intention. However, the results of the analysis show that the influence of local social capital is significant and has a greater impact than the individual subjective SES.

As in foreign studies, this study also confirmed the influence of local social capital on migration intention in Korea. This suggests that local social capital can’t be a major factor in determining residence, but it can lower migration intention significantly if local social capital is high.

This study also confirmed that individual subjective SES, which was not focused in previous studies, could be a significant determinant of migration intention. The results confirm that the perception of their own position within the community can affect the migration intention. Individual subjective SES can lower migration intention by increasing residential satisfaction etc.

In short, hypothesis 1 and 2 were accepted, and it was confirmed that social relations within the community were significant determinants of migration intention in Korea.

Results of the Separation Analysis between Urban and Rural Areas

It is notable that the regional characteristics reflected in the control variables are very significant factors of the migration intention on both subjective and objective aspects. As in previous studies, community satisfaction was a very strong influence factor of migration intention. The higher the community satisfaction, the lower the migration intention. Also, the urban - rural dummy variable, which indicates the characteristics of the objective condition of the region, also has a great influence on the migration intention. The results show that migration intention of urban residents was significantly higher than that of rural residents. Indeed, mobility of urban residents is higher than that of rural areas.

The significant influence of the urban - rural dummy variable on the migration intention suggests that the specific determinants of the migration intention may also be different between urban and rural areas. Therefore, this study separately analyzed urban and rural areas with different objective condition characteristics of community (Table 5).
Table 5

Results of Moderate effect Analysis

 

Rural

Urban

Beta

Robust S.E.

Beta

Robust S.E.

I.V.

Social capital

−0.08

*

0.07

−0.11

***

0.05

Subjective SES

−0.08

**

0.05

−0.03

0.04

C.V.

Community

Community satisfaction

−0.39

***

0.00

−0.41

***

0.00

Individual or household

Age

−0.03

0.01

0.06

*

0.00

Marital status

−0.05

0.13

−0.09

***

0.09

Gender dummy

0.05

*

0.08

0.01

0.06

Household size

0.08

**

0.05

−0.00

0.04

Household income

−0.07

*

0.04

−0.02

0.02

Education

0.11

***

0.06

−0.00

0.05

Employed status dummy

−0.03

0.09

−0.00

0.07

Home ownership dummy

0.04

0.11

−0.08

***

0.07

Duration of residence

0.01

0.00

−0.00

0.00

N

1236

1375

F(df)

(12, 1223)

27.45

(12, 1362)

30.19

R 2

0.25

0.28

vif

1.90

1.87

* p < .1; ** p < .05; *** p < .01. Beta: standardized coefficient

Values in bold show statistical significance

The results of the separate analysis of urban and rural areas are as follows. In rural areas, both local social capital and individual subjective SES are significant, but only local social capital is significant in urban areas. Through the above results, the following points can be identified. First, in the case of Korea, despite the evaluation that the rural community is stagnant and the urban community is underdeveloped, it was confirmed that local social capital affects migration intention in both urban and rural areas. Second, it is noteworthy that subjective SES had a significant effect on migration intention only in rural areas.

This can be interpreted as the difference in the degree of ‘anonymity of the individual’ within community. Anonymity refers to the state or degree to which an individual’s identity or behavior is not identified by others (Zimbardo, 1969). This anonymity can vary depending on the objective characteristics of the community, such as the size of the population or the difference in economic structure, because that determines the characteristics and the degree of contact with neighbors. In other words, the anonymity of an individual may be different between urban and rural areas.

In other words, individual anonymous can be high in urban areas because the population size is large, the mobility is high, and the interaction with surrounding people is small. Furthermore, the objective socioeconomic conditions of residents may be homogeneous because the price of housing can act as barriers to entry. Hence the residents’ subjective SES may not act as an important variable in individual perceptions and behaviors in urban areas.

On the other hand, individual anonymous can be relatively low in rural areas because the population size is small, the homogeneity of economic activities such as agriculture is high, and the possibility of contact with the neighbors is high due to the long residence period etc. Therefore, in the rural area, self-evaluation of their own position in the relationship with the surrounding people can be a more important factor for the individual intention and behavior such as migration intention (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1

Differences in ‘Individual Anonymity’ in Urban and Rural areas

Other Determinants of Migration Intention: The Effect of Control Variables

As the control variables, the effect of individual/households characteristics on migration intention showed differences between urban and rural areas. In rural areas, gender, household size, household income and education had an effect on migration intention. Migration intention of females was higher than that of the males. It also showed that the higher the number of household members and the higher the level of education, the higher migration intention. This can be interpreted as a tendency to migrate to other areas for better education for residents of the rural areas. A large number of household members may mean that there are many children, which is interpreted as a desire to move to other areas for higher education for the better education of their children. On the other hand, the result that shows the higher the household income, the lower the migration intention, can be interpreted as follows. High household income means that the household has secured economic strength in the rural economic systems, which can increase the willingness to live in current community.

In contrast, age and home ownership affect migration intention in urban areas. In urban areas, migration intention increased as age increased. This can be interpreted that willingness to move to a natural environment of the elderly increases. In addition, home ownership, emphasized in overseas studies, shows that it decreases migration intention only in urban areas. This can be attributed to the fact that the cost of buying a house in an urban area is higher than that of rural areas. Therefore, home ownership is an important factor only in urban areas where the cost of buying a house is high. Purchasing a house means that the resident has decided to continue to live in that area, and at the same time, the satisfaction of purchasing the house increases the willingness to reside. As in the previous research, home ownership decreases the migration intention because homeowner is more likely to share economic interests and community bonds with neighbors.

Discussion and Conclusion

This study empirically analyzed the effects of social relations within community on the migration intention using the 2017 community wellbeing national survey data. Although local residents’ migration intention is crucial to local governments that continue to suffer from decreasing population, there is lack of domestic research in this field. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine whether relational characteristics within the community are influential factors of migration intention in Korea.

This study has implications in that it made detailed analysis by dividing the characteristics of social relations into collective level and individual level, verified their differential effect on the perceptions and behaviors of the residents, allowing the analysis of the discriminative characteristics.

The main findings are as follows. First, despite the rapid industrialization and urbanization of Korea, the perception of local social capital is a major factor that influences residents’ migration intentions. Considering the fact that local social capital has been measured in this study through the elements of trust, network (participation in group activities), and social bonds, it can be inferred that the enhancement of trust and bonds by local governments through various network activities in the community can be a way to increase the residents’ intention to reside continuously.

Second, the perception of one’s own SES within the community can be a factor influencing migration intention. In Korea, where inequality and polarization continues to intensify, mitigating inequality and improving socioeconomic conditions suggest that it may be a factor that can increase continuous residency. Considering that subjective SES is based on objective socioeconomic conditions, the policy of local governments to improve the socioeconomic conditions of local residents and to mitigate polarization will have a positive impact on the willingness to reside.

Third, two characteristics of social relations - the influence of local social capital and subjective SES - on migration behaviors are different in urban and rural areas.

Relatively more influences on migration intention were observed; for individual subjective SES in rural areas, and local social capital in urban areas.

This study explains the reason for these differences in the anonymity of individuals due to differences in characteristics of urban and rural areas. That is, these elements such as the size and density of the population, the degree of mobility, the level of regional economic structure, the degree of homogeneity of individual’s occupation, and the difference in residence periods lead to differences in the degree of contact and interaction of individuals with neighbors. As a result, in rural areas with relatively high contact and relationship densities, the subjective SES at the individual level has a more sensitive and effective influence on migration intention. On the other hand, in urban areas with high mobility, low personal homogeneity, and high socioeconomic conditions (due to the effect of preventing the entry of housing prices), the anonymity of the individual is so high that subjective SES is relatively less influential on migration intention.

Fourth, because the determinants and characteristics of migration intention are different between urban and rural areas, local governments need to search for policy alternatives to decrease residents’ migration intention based on their local characteristics. In urban areas where the influences of local social capital are strong, a policy to increase the trust and solidarity of local residents through various network activities within the region will be effective. For example, there are policies like ‘Seoul’s community business’ or ‘Apartment community vitalization’. On the other hand, in addition to these efforts, in rural areas where the impact of individual subjective SES is also significant, policy efforts to mitigate polarization and to promote the objective SES conditions of residents are also needed. That is because subjective SES is based on the objective SES. For example, there is policy effort to revitalize ‘lifelong learning communities’, because lifelong learning can improve the perception of oneself.

Fifth, Community satisfaction was the largest and most significant variable in the determinant analysis of migration intention. Therefore, this suggests that local governments can improve resident’s willingness to reside by improving various conditions of local communities. Therefore, local government efforts to improve community well-being and satisfaction are needed. Local government efforts to respond to the diverse policy demands of residents will be needed, in addition to improving basic public services such as road maintenance, police, and fire services. For example, in urban areas where there is a relatively high demand for educational services, a variety of educational programs can be a policy alternative. On the other hand, in rural areas where there is a relatively high demand for health services, a variety of highly accessible health care programs can be a policy alternative.

Lastly, this study can offer the some implications for community well-being research. First, community well - being is closely related to residents’ migration intentions and community satisfaction. That is because the pattern of migration, which affects the level of community well-being through changing the various resources of the community, is reflected in migration intention. Therefore, the research on community satisfaction and migration intention can be related to community well - being research. Second, through this study, we can confirm the importance of social relations within community with regard to community well – being, by identifying the relationship between social relations and migration intention. Therefore, the efforts to increase community satisfaction through various community vitalization policies, which increase local social capital and promote an assessment of their own position, can be a way to increase community well-being. In addition, we can imply that significant factor to improve the community wellbeing may be different by urban and rural areas, as significant determinants of migration intention varies between the two areas. Therefore, this implies that community well-being research also needs to consider regional characteristics of urban and rural areas.

While this study has implications for presenting policy proposals to increase the residents’ willingness to reside for local governments, it has the following limitations. First, there may be a problem of measurement validity, because local social capital is measured as ‘perceived’ social capital and the measurement items are in the form of satisfaction. Second, there is a limitation that personal aspects of social relations could not be reflected in the analysis because of lack of data.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2016S1A3A2924563).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Community Wellbeing Research Center, Graduate School of Public AdministrationSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Graduate School of Public AdministrationSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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