Residential trajectories: optimal alignment and the structure of residential mobility over the life course
Drawing from an intersection of different theoretical perspectives and methodological innovations, this study examined the residential careers that individuals follow over the course of their lives. This investigation utilized sequence analysis methods such as Optimal Alignment in conjunction with hierarchical clustering techniques to identify and describe individuals' patterns of longitudinal residential movement over the life course. Consistent with the tenets of the Life Course paradigm, this study shows that individuals' residential trajectories unfold in a manner similar to the progression of occupational, educational, or household compositional "careers".In this study I constructed a set of 25 stable and non-stable residential trajectories characterized by individuals' longitudinal movements across types of places. Simple bivariate and more sophisticated multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that the prevalence of distinct trajectories varied across different socio-demographic and compositional sub-groups. In particular, younger, more educated Whites exhibit more complex pathways, and individuals who engage in marital shifts over the life course demonstrate less stability. These findings build on the many conclusions drawn from prior studies of housing and migration careers. Further analysis of the contrast between the "place" and "geographic" dimensions of residential histories suggest the presence of a subset of more educated individuals who maintain attachments to types of places that transcend geographic constraints.The conclusions of this analysis highlight the importance of using alternative approaches such as Optimal Alignment to understand patterns and processes of residential mobility. The discussion provides the ground work necessary for researchers to apply such methods to a variety of questions about mobility, migration, destination choice, and immigration.
- Sociology