Residential Mobility in the Second Half of Life: The Role of Family-Related Transitions and Retirement



This study investigates the effect of entry into retirement and family-related transitions on residential mobility among elderly people living in Germany. We use data of the German Socio-Economic Panel and apply event-history techniques to examine the risk of moving to another home among women and men aged 50–90 in the years 1992–2010. The analysis includes about 15,600 individuals who were living in multiple-person households at age 50, as well as about 1,500 people who were living in single households. Our study suggests that residential mobility during the second half of life is an increasingly important issue, as the time spent in retirement is becoming longer due to gains in life expectancy and as later birth cohorts are more prone to moving than earlier generations. The results show that the risk of moving increases in response to changes in family life, such as the formation of a new partnership or the dissolution of a union due to separation or the death of a spouse. The risk of moving is also high among people who have left the labor market, and particularly among women who have experienced a deterioration in their health status.


Labor Market Labor Force Participation Residential Mobility Union Dissolution Single Household 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the first author’s European Re-integration Grant within the Marie Curie Actions (FP7 People, PERG-GA-2009-249266 – MigFam) funded by the European Commission. The views expressed in this paper do not reflect the views of the funding agencies. The constructive comments of an anonymous reviewer are gratefully acknowledged as is the language editing done by Miriam Hils.


  1. Blossfeld, H.-P., & Rohwer, G. (1995). Techniques of event history modeling: New approaches to causal analyses. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  2. Breuer, T. (2005). Retirement migration or rather second-home tourism?: German senior citizens on the Canary Islands – Altersmigration oder eher Zweitwohnungstourismus? Deutsche Senioren auf den Kanarischen Inseln. Die Erde, 136(3), 313–333.Google Scholar
  3. Buck, C. (2004). Zweit- und Alterswohnsitze an der Costa Blanca: Räumliche Identifikation und soziale Netzwerke im höheren Erwachsenenalter am Beispiel der Gemeinde El Poblets. Dissertation, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle-Wittenberg.Google Scholar
  4. Chevan, A. (1995). Holding on and letting go: Residential mobility during widowhood. Research on Aging, 17(3), 278–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clark, W. A. V., & White, K. (1990). Modeling elderly mobility. Environment and Planning A, 22(7), 909–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clark, R. L., & Wolf, D. A. (1992). Proximity of children and elderly migration. In A. Rogers (Ed.), Elderly migration and population redistribution: A comparative study (pp. 77–96). London: Belhaven.Google Scholar
  7. Clark, D. E., Knapp, T. A., & White, N. E. (1996). Personal and location-specific characteristics and elderly interstate migration. Growth and Change, 27(3), 327–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cooke, T. J. (2008). Migration in a family way. Population, Space and Place, 14, 255–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. De Jong, G. F., Wilmoth, J. M., Angel, J. L., & Cornwell, G. T. (1995). Motives and the geographic mobility of very old Americans. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 50(6), 395–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DRV – Deutsche Rentenversicherung. (Ed.). (2010). Statistik der Deutschen Rentenversicherung – Rentenversicherung in Zeitreihen 2010 – Rentenzugang.Google Scholar
  11. Duncombe, W., Robbins, M., & Wolf, D. A. (2003). Place characteristics and residential location choice among the retirement-age population. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 58B(4), 244–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. EHEMU – European Health Expectancy Monitoring Unit (2009). Health expectancy in Germany. EHEMU Country Reports, 2, 36–39.Google Scholar
  13. Frey, W. H., Liaw, K.-L., & Lin, G. (2000). State magnets for different elderly migrant types in the United States. International Journal of Population Geography, 6(1), 21–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedrich, K., & Kaiser, C. (2002). Deutsche Senioren/innen unter der Sonne Mallorcas: Das Phänomen der Ruhesitzwanderung. Praxis Geographie, 2, 14–15.Google Scholar
  15. Granato, N., Haas, A., Hamann, S., & Niebuhr, A. (2009). Arbeitskräftemobilität in Deutschland: Qualifikationsspezifische Befunde regionaler Wanderungs- und Pendlerströme. Raumforschung und Raumordnung, 1, 21–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ha, J.-H., Carr, D., Utz, R. L., & Nesse, R. (2006). Older adults’ perceptions of intergenerational support after widowhood: How do men and women differ? Journal of Family Issues, 27(1), 3–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hoem, J. M. (1987). Statistical analysis of a multiplicative model and its application to the standardization of vital rates: A review. International Statistical Review, 55(2), 119–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hoem, J. M. (1993). Classical demographic methods of analysis and modern event history techniques. In 22nd international population conference (Vol. 3, pp. 281–291). Montreal: IUSSP.Google Scholar
  19. Kalter, F. (1997). Wohnortwechsel in Deutschland. Opladen: Leske und Budrich.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klein, J. P., & Moeschberger, M. L. (1997). Survival analysis: Techniques for censored and truncated data. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kley, S. (2011). Explaining the stages of migration within a life-course framework. European Sociological Review, 27(4), 469–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee, E. S. (1966). A theory of migration. Demography, 3(1), 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Litwak, E., & Longino, C. F., Jr. (1987). Migration patterns among the elderly: A developmental perspective. The Gerontologist, 27(3), 266–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Longino, C. F., Jr., & Smith, K. J. (1991). Black retirement migration in the United States. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 46(3), 125–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mulder, C. H. (2007). The family context and residential choice: A challenge for new research. Population, Space and Place, 13, 265–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mulder, C. H., & Cooke, T. J. (2009). Guest Editorial: Family ties and residential locations. Population, Space and Place, 15, 299–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rogers, A., & Serow, W. J. (Eds.). (1988). Elderly migration: An international comparative study. Boulder: University of Colorado, Population Program.Google Scholar
  28. Rossi, P. H. (1955). Why families move: A study in the social psychology of urban residential mobility. Glencoe: Free Press.Google Scholar
  29. Ruppenthal, S., Limmer, R., & Bonß, W. (2006). Literature on job mobility in Germany. Job mobilities. State-of-the-art of mobility research (Job Mobilities Working Paper, No. 2006-01), chapter 5 (Research project: Job mobilities and family lives in Europe – Modern mobile living and its relation to quality of life). Available on:
  30. Schaan, B. (2009). Verwitwung, Geschlecht und Depression im höheren Lebensalter. In A. Bösch-Supan, K. Hank, H. Jürges, & M. Schröder (Eds.), 50Plus in Deutschland und Europa – Ergebnisse des Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (pp. 115–131). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Speare, A., Jr. (1971). A cost-benefit model of rural to urban migration in Taiwan. Population Studies, 25, 117–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Speare, A., Jr., Avery, R., & Lawton, L. (1991). Disability, residential mobility, and changes in living arrangements. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 46(3), 133–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Statistisches Bundesamt (Ed.). (2010). Wanderungsstatistik: Wanderungen zwischen den Bundesländern nach Altersgruppen und Geschlecht 1991 bis 2008. Wiesbaden: Destatis.Google Scholar
  34. Tucci, I., & Yildiz, S. (2012). Das Alterseinkommen von Migrantinnen und Migranten: zur Erklärungskraft von Bildungs- und Erwerbsbiografien. In H. Baykara-Krumme, A. Motel-Klingebiel, & P. Schimany (Eds.), Viele Welten des Alterns: Ältere Migranten im alternden Deutschland (pp. 101–126). Wiesbaden: Springer/VS.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wagner, M. (1989). Räumliche Mobilität im Lebensverlauf. Stuttgart: Enke.Google Scholar
  36. Wagner, G. C., Göbel, J., Krause, P., Pischner, R., & Sieber, I. (2008). Das Sozio-oekonomische Panel (SOEP): Multidisziplinäres Haushaltspanel und Kohortenstudie für Deutschland – Eine Einführung (für neue Datennutzer) mit einem Ausblick (für erfahrene Anwender). Wirtschafts- und Sozialstatistisches Archiv, 2, 301–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Walters, W. H. (2000). Types and patterns of later-life migration. Geografiska Annaler, 82B(3), 129–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Warnes, A. M. (1992). Age-related variation and temporal change in elderly migration. In A. Rogers (Ed.), Elderly migration and population redistribution: A comparative study (pp. 35–55). London: Belhaven.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Sociology and DemographyUniversity of RostockRostockGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Statistics and Communication Technologies of the State of Lower SaxonyHannoverGermany

Personalised recommendations