Migration and Politics: The Impact of Population Mobility on American Voting Behavior

By Thad A. Brown | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
A Description of Migrants

Depend upon it: there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace.

-- Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Case of Identity

In this chapter internal migration is formally defined, and migrants are described by measures of socioeconomic status and politics. In this description, migrants are compared with nonmigrants and a cross section of the population. Migrants who were interviewed in 1970 or in 1980 soon after their last move are compared with those who moved earlier. How migrants are different politically given their socioeconomic attributes and the nature of their migration experience (the distance of a move, rural or urban change, and interregional relocation) is considered at the end of the chapter.


Definitions of Migration

Determining and describing who migrates appear to be rather straightforward tasks. A moment's reflection, however, can help illustrate their complexity. The problems concern the definition of migration. Which of the many dimensions of migration should be examined for political consequences? (The data needed to test theoretical propositions are discussed in Appendix A.)

When a move is from the urban Northeast to the rural Southwest, there is little disagreement that the individuals involved are mi-

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