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Place attributes in a migration decision context

By Susan O Gustavus and L A Brown


The research reported in this paper used four different survey methods to elucidate the importance of thirteen place attributes in the decision to migrate to Columbus, Ohio; (1) a Likert-type assessment of the general importance of each attribute; (2) a paired-comparison technique for ascertaining attribute trade-off possibilities; (3) measures of saliency and satisfaction with each attribute in the former place of residence, in the town that was the second choice for migration, and in Columbus, the migration destination; and (4) open-ended self-reports of reasons for moving. Use of these varying methodological approaches allows observations both on research strategies for migration studies and on substantive findings concerning place attributes. Relative to the latter, a two-step process is proposed. The first stage of the migration process is identifying a set of alternative destinations in comparison with the former place of residence. Although all thirteen attributes are important in the abstract, housing, jobs, schools, and health care facilities are particularly critical should trade-offs be necessary. Nearness to home and shopping would be traded off most readily, as would `city lights' amenities, which are generally regarded as important in migration literature. In the second stage, a destination is chosen. Attributes appear to function primarily as threshold conditions in this process. This, Columbus and the second choice were both perceived as dramatically different from the former place of residence, but were nearly identical to one another. In this context personal contacts in a potential migration destination are apparently crucial in confirming for the migrant that perceptions of attributes are correct and in easing assimilation and adjustment problems.

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