Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Contextual Analysis of Rural Migration Intention: A Comparison of Taiwanese and Pennsylvania Data (*)

Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Contextual Analysis of Rural Migration Intention: A Comparison of Taiwanese and Pennsylvania Data (*)

Article excerpt

Pei-Shan Liao (**)


This paper uses the interactional community approach to examine the effects of community attachment and quality of life on migration intention in rural Pennsylvania and Taiwanese communities. Both quality of life and community attachment were found to have positive effects on reducing migration intention. Similar patterns were found in both data sets, although the hypothesis that quality of life mediates the effect of community attachment on migration intention was not supported in the Taiwanese data. Separate models that include additional measures of community attachment and quality of life are needed to further elaborate the mediating effect of quality of life on the relationship between community attachment and migration intention.


Out-migration from rural areas has been a particularly important issue for several decades. While employment growth of recreational industries and the scenic amenities of rural areas contributed to nonmetropolitan population expansion during the turnaround period of the late-1970s and early-1980s (Heaton et al. 1981; Mead 1982; Williams 1981; Williams and Jobes 1990; Williams and McMillen 1983; Williams and Sofranko 1979), out-migration from rural communities to metropolitan areas has exceeded in-migration rates since the 1980s (Lichter et al. 1995). Lack of economic opportunities and social services have been found to be major factors that contributed to out-migration from rural communities (DeJong 1977; Heaton et al. 1981; Rhoda 1983; Speare 1971; Varady 1983). In order to stop this out-migration and continued loss of local human capital, many development efforts in rural areas have focused on economic growth designed to increase employment opportunities (Lichter et al. 1995).

The lack of economic opportunities and poor public services contributes to a view of rural areas as having a lower quality of life (Willits et al. 1990). However, rural areas are also seen as having quiet and peaceful neighborhoods, good natural environments, and ample living space, all of which contributes to making rural places idyllic residential destinations (Bell 1992; Willits et al. 1990). Previous studies have demonstrated that many people are dissatisfied with crowded environments and the impersonal relationships common in urban areas, and that they would prefer a rural life (Bell 1992; Low and Peek 1974; Willits et al. 1990). Life in rural areas is perceived as meeting such needs.

Quality of life has been found to be a determinant of migration (Basu 1992; Cereseto and Waitzkin 1986; Kao and Liu 1984; Shin and Snyder 1983; Zinam 1989). People have reported a willingness to migrate to other places in order to pursue individual well-being and a better quality of life (DeJong and Fawcett 1981; Speare 1974; Varady 1983; Williams and Jobes 1990). Satisfaction with housing, neighbors, and the physical environment have been found to impact rural migration (Bell 1992; DeJong and Fawcett 1981; Newman and Duncan 1979; Speare 1974; Varady 1983). The availability of social and public services have also been found to influence perceived quality of life (Barnard and Van der Merwe 1991; Hsieh and Liu 1983; Warner and Burdge 1979). A poorer quality of life, as revealed by each of these indicators, could initiate the migration intention decision-making process (Newman and Duncan 1979; Speare 1974; Varady 1983). This raises the central question of this research - can improvements in levels of local quali ty of life reduce people's intention to move?

While economic incentives have played an essential role in the migration decision-making processes, social interaction within a place and community attachment built through the interaction process are equally important (Bell 1992; Cuba and Hummon 1993; DeJong and Fawcett 1981; Swanson et al. 1979; Willits et al. 1990). Emotional attachments to rural areas have been shown to influence migration intentions (Beggs et al. …

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