Inter-County Variability of Net Migration at Older Ages as a Path-Dependent Process

David L. Brown, Cornell University
Benjamin C. Bolender, Kansas State University
Laszlo J. Kulcsar, Kansas State University
Nina Glasgow, Cornell University
Scott R. Sanders, Cornell University

We examine why some nonmetropolitan counties are more likely than others to attract older in-migration. We contend that when natural amenities are commodified as recreation and tourism, migration networks are established that ultimately produce sustained in-migration of older persons to selected destination communities. We use county data from a variety of sources and a spatial statistics methodology to examine inter-county variability in net migration rates at ages 60+. Our findings are consistent with a path dependent development framework. High amenity counties with developed tourism, a long history of population growth, and previous experience attracting older in-migrants are most likely to have high net in-migration rates at ages 60+. In contrast, agricultural heartland and high poverty rate counties are associated with lower rates of older in-migration. Older migrants can be “grey gold,” but they can also pose challenges, such as possibly increased demand for public services as they age in place.

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Presented in Session 71: Internal Migration across the Life Course