‘Rooted’ Americans Won’t Move for a Higher Salary

May 31, 2019
luggage on road
Photo: Unsplash/Jed Owen

A new study found that nearly half of Americans identify as ‘rooted,’ making them less likely to move from their current hometowns, even for a higher salary.

Curbed reports that the study, conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, suggests that “other, more emotional and psychological factors may be at work” in keeping Americans in their homes, beyond practical considerations like rising student debt or the high cost of new homes. These factors together may explain the decline in mobility seen across the country since the 1980s.

A significant reason for the decline in mobility is that many of us are highly attached to our towns. Nearly half of those in the survey (47 percent) identify as rooted. The rooted are disproportionately white, older, married, homeowners, and rural. Their reasons for not moving are more psychological than economic: proximity to family and friends, and their involvement in the local community or church.

Another 15 percent identify as stuck, lacking the resources or ability to move. The stuck have less formal education, are in worse health, and are less satisfied with their jobs, the survey finds. In addition, they are more likely to live in cities and live relatively close to family members. Their reasons for not moving are mainly economic: the costs of moving, the affordability of housing in other locations, the difficulty of qualifying for a new mortgage, and the perception that there is less opportunity for them elsewhere.

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