Migration decisions of the elderly : an empirical study and the development of a general theory

Woodhead, Keith R.

March 1979

Thesis or dissertation

© 1979 Keith R Woodhead. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The thesis sets out to examine the factors which influence the migration decisions of old people and, from this, to develop a more general framework for the study of all migration decisions. Two lines of approach are therefore taken: the first, a study of the 'retirement' migration decision per se, is based on a sample of 294 elderly long distance migrants, local movers and non migrants in five Yorkshire coastal towns; the second develops the main arguments and findings of the empirical section to form a general quantitative theory of decision making, migration behaviour being presented as a special case of this general model.

The empirical study is primarily concerned with the apparent impact of age related social, economic and biological processes on the decision to move, the effects of previous geographical mobility and the importance of earlier visits to the place of eventual destination, A series of models for predicting the distance and direction of migration is then proposed; this is based on findings concerning the importance attached by the elderly migrant to sources of potential social support and the influence of previous travel and migration experience. Tests of these models suggest that moderately accurate prediction of individual behaviour is possible.

The theory of behaviour is developed from a series of parallel themes which span the fields of consumer economics, cognitive psychology, attitude theory and statistical decision theory. These are then drawn together, first in the form of a descriptive model of a behavioural system, and then as a general mathematical model which uses the causal structure postulated in the descriptive system. Finally, an approach to the simulation of the structure of the psychological environment is outlined and the special case of the migration decision is examined in the context of the general theory.

Department of Geography, The University of Hull
Wilkinson, H. R. (Henry Robert)
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