Research has demonstrated a strong relationship between residential stability and child well-being, with frequent moves associated with such negative outcomes as dropping out of high school, delinquency, depression, and nonmarital teen births. Some researchers theorize that these negative associations may result from a lack of attachment to a local community and its institutions on the part of frequent movers.
The United States has long been a highly mobile society. In 1960, 21 percent of children under the age of 18 had moved to a new residence during the previous year. The general trend since that time has been toward somewhat lower rates of mobility, with a rate of 18 percent in 1997.11
Differences by Age. Young children were the most mobile of any child age group (see Table PF 3.1). In 1999, 23 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 4 had changed residences in the previous year, compared with 18 percent among children ages 5 through 9, 13 percent of ages 10 through 14, and 13 percent of youth ages 15 through 17.
Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin. For all children under age 18 in 1999, white children were the least mobile, with 16 percent moving during the previous year compared with 23 percent of black and 19 percent of Hispanic children.
Table PF 3.1 Percentage of children in the United States under age 18a who have moved within the last year, by age and by race and Hispanic origin:b 1990-1999c
a Estimates are based on children ages 1 and older at time of survey
b Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Estimates for whites and blacks include persons of Hispanic origin.
c Estimates for 1995 are not available.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1999. Geographical Mobility, and earlier reports; also previous issues of this annual report (Series P-20, no. 510, P-20, no. 497, no. 485, no. 481, no. 463, no. 456, Table 26 in all).
10 Estimates were based on children ages 1 and older at time of survey.
11 Wood, D., Halfon, N., Scarlata, D., Newacheck, P., & Nessim, S. 1993. Impact of Family Relocation on Children’s Growth, Development, School Function, and Behavior. JAMA 270: 1334-1338; Coleman, J. 1988. Social Capital and the Creation of Human Capital. American Journal of Sociology 94: s95-s120.
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