Academic journal article Demographic Research

Patterns and Selectivities of Urban/rural Migration in Israel

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Patterns and Selectivities of Urban/rural Migration in Israel

Article excerpt

1. Introduction3

Israel, like other more developed nations, is highly urbanized. In fact, as early as 1955, some eight out of every ten people were concentrated in places with 2,000 or more persons. 4 The urban share has risen to nine of every ten today. Hence, one might ask, why study urban-rural migration if only 10% of the nation's population lives in rural areas? The reason is because even with such high rate of urban population concentration, people still move in and out of such places, and the selectivities of these migration streams can change the composition of urban and rural populations, even if they have little effect on the sizes of urban and rural places or the overall level of urbanization.

Older persons are less likely to move, for example, but those who do move are highly likely to seek rural destinations, thereby aging the rural population (Brown and Glasgow 2008). By contrast, people with advanced education and high professional qualifications are more likely to move from rural areas to cities, which offer better economic opportunities, higher returns on human capital, and cultural activities (Anderson 2011; Lichter and Brown 2011). Other research shows that some persons in later middle age, especially those with intact marriages and relatively high incomes, tend to move from cities to rural areas largely for lifestyle reasons (Champion and Sheppard 2006). Such selectivities alter the socioeconomic profile of rural localities, given their smaller relative size.

A focus on rural areas in metropolitan society is justified for many reasons regardless of such areas' small share of a nation's overall population. As Kulcsar and Curtis (2012) indicate in the International Handbook of Rural Demography, rural areas and their populations continue to matter in more developed and highly urbanized countries because while only containing a minority of the population, they often account for a majority of a nation's land, water, minerals, energy, and other natural resources; as well as large parts of a nation's infrastructure such as roads, bridges, pipelines, and of course most of its domestic food production. (Brown and Schafft 2011).

In this paper we examine internal population mobility in Israel between urban and rural areas, as well as movement among places within the respective categories. We are interested in learning if migrants with certain social and economic characteristics are more likely to move from urban to rural locations, rural to urban locations, or to circulate within the urban and rural categories themselves. Not surprisingly, the migration selectivity of the Jewish and non-Jewish populations is of interest to Israel, hence, the first part of our analysis examines differences in migration propensity and direction of migration between Jews and non-Jews. Thereafter, because of a lack of data on non-Jews, we narrow the focus to Jews alone, examining the determinants of internal migration, and how such determinants might differ between rural-urban vs. urban-rural streams and between rural-urban and within category moves. In our analysis we examine the impact of individual demographic and socioeconomic characteristics on the direction of migration. Despite being a small country with relatively short distances between places, Israel has experienced extensive development outside of its major cities. This has been accompanied by continuous population dispersion. Insight into the Israeli case, which to the best of our knowledge has not been investigated over the last several years, contributes to the empirical and theoretical literature on urban and rural migration and population redistribution in contemporary, industrialized countries.

2. Background

Since its establishment in 1948, Israel's governments have viewed population as an instrument for spatial planning and resettlement (Eisenstadt 1973; Newman 2000). In a country where agricultural workers account for only a small fraction of the labor force and the location of industries is not affected by the dispersion of natural resources, considerations of social, economic, and geopolitical factors as well as environmental preferences become major determinants of the desired pattern of population distribution (Brotskos 1973). …

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