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

By Thad A. Brown | Go to book overview

Appendix A
Data, Variables, and Adjustment Procedures

Data

No single data base is sufficient for studying the political consequences of migration. In the past, scholars have mainly focused on gross migration streams, movements between north and south, east and west, or rural and urban areas. While interregional or intercommunity migrations are important sources of social or cultural change and therefore potentially important to political analysis, in this book consideration is also given to the local political environment, which may change with migration.

Data on the impact of the migrant's early political socialization in the family of origin are also essential, as are the data that focus on the age groups most likely to experience geographical mobility. Further, examination of migrants alone does not complete the picture. The nonmigrant population must also be available for a comparison with the migrating citizens. Finally, to develop a measure of political contextual change, aggregate historical evidence is used to define the migrant's past and current residential environments. Obviously no single data source or type of evidence will meet all of these requirements.

Many of the American National Election Studies (NES) from the University of Michigan's Center for Political Studies contain the minimal information needed to study the political consequences of regional or urban-rural migration over the life course. In each national election study from 1952 to 1980, data are available concerning the state and type of place in which respondents currently live, their place of birth, and the type of community in which they were raised. The more dramatic type of population movement can be examined with some care for most of the years from the 1920s to the present.

In addition, the 1970 and 1980 American National Election Studies and the 1965-1973 Youth-Parent Panel Study inquired into geographical mobility carefully enough to allow a fairly precise reconstruction of the past migratory experience for the purpose of contextual analysis. Respondents were asked the length of time they had lived in their current community. Respondents

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