Nonresident family as a motive for migration

Brian Joseph Gillespie*, Clara H. Mulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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A great deal of research has focused on employment and educational reasons for migration. Recent research has also begun to explore social motives. However, we still know very little about the role of nonresident family for moving, especially over long distances.


We examine (1) the prevalence of nonresident family as a primary motive versus a secondary and location-based motive for migration, (2) moving away from family versus moving toward family, (3) how individuals' reported family motives correspond to their actual migration toward family members, and (4) the sociodemographic characteristics of individuals who report family as a motive for migration.


The data were derived from the Swedish Motives for Moving survey, which is based on an analytic sample of 4,601 Swedish respondents who migrated at least 20 km in 2007. We present descriptive statistics and quotes to illustrate respondents' reports of their migration motives. As a tool for sophisticated description, we also provide the results of logistic and ordered logistic regression models of mentioning nonresident family as a motive for moving.


Common assumptions that internal migration is related to employment and education underestimate the importance of family as a motive. Moreover, nonresident family is among the secondary and location-based considerations for many more migrants than data on only primary motives might suggest. Reports of migration toward family are far more common than reports of migration away from family. We provide support for the assumption underlying previous work that moves toward family are indeed motivated by family considerations and not just a by-product of other considerations. Sociodemographic characteristics associated with reporting nonresident family are in line with expectations based on prior research and theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-410
Number of pages12
JournalDemographic Research
Publication statusPublished - 26-Feb-2020



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