A life course and spatial perspective on internal migration. A case study of the French speaking community of Belgium

Ulrich Pötter, Deutsches Jugendinstitut
Ingrid H. Schockaert, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The purpose of our paper is to contribute to the development of a method for the analysis of internal migration within a life course and geographical perspective. We will develop our arguments using data of a retrospective survey, carried out by the University of Liege among senior residents of the French speaking community of Belgium between the age of 55 and 74. First, we will visualize the “residence-migration trajectories” by means of a 3-dimensional picture, using lines to illustrate respondent’s moves from one location to another and the time spent in each location. Rotating the picture, shortening or stretching the time dimension, and selecting age groups or cities, will be used to facilitate its interpretation. Secondly, we break down the respondent’s complete trajectories into residence episodes, starting at the beginning of each new place of residence and ending with the next move. We will build several indicators to describe their time and special elements. We demonstrate the use of these indicators through some uni- and bivariat descriptive examples of migration episodes. Preliminary analysis portrays the general migration patterns in our sample: migration occurs mainly between Walloon cities, resulting in an overrepresentation of East-West axis; they concentrate during early childhood and young adulthood; distance drops as age increases and moves to the city suburbs boost; after the age of 35, migration becomes rare and distance until after retirement. We also depict the rise of the new city Louvain-la-Neuve and the status change of Namur to an important administrative centre. Finally, we propose two pathways for further development of our approach.

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Presented in Session 21: Internal migration, regional and urban issues