How Has Elderly Migration Changed in the 21st Century? What the Data Can -- and Can't -- Tell Us

Karen Conway, University of New Hampshire
Jonathan Rork, Reed College

This research investigates how patterns of interstate elderly migration have changed in the 21st century. The replacement of the Census Long Form (CLF) with the American Community Survey (ACS) requires us to devise methodologies for reconciling differences between the two. Current Population Survey (CPS) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data aid in our methodology and illuminate if detected changes in migration rates and state-to-state flows are genuine or instead an artifact of using the ACS. We find that the ACS can generate comparable migration data that reveals a continuation of previously identified geographic patterns plus changes unique to the 2000s. The small number of migrants the ACS yields, however, weakens its usefulness for analyzing annual migration patterns or for small population states. Most troubling, its changed definition of residence and survey timing leaves unanswered the basic question of whether elderly migration has increased, decreased or stayed the same since 2000.

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Presented in Session 139: Migration of the Young and the Old