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Sticking close to home — two-thirds of young Americans live near where they grew up

Here in Canada, there is often a belief that Americans tend to be more mobile than Canadians. Don’t like the cold weather? Just move south. Taxes too high? Just move south. Housing too expensive? Just move south.

But just how mobile is mobile? A new study by the US Census Bureau and Harvard University found that by age 26, more than 2/3 of young adults in the US actually just live where they grew up, with 80% living within 100 miles, and 90% living within 500 miles.

Migration distances were also found to be impacted by both race and parental income (though these two things likely exhibit a relationship on their own). If you are a young white or Asian adult, the “radius of economic opportunity” tends to grow and you’re more likely to live further away from where you grew up.

The most popular destinations overall are New York, Los Angeles, Washington, and Denver (in this order). And while New York and Los Angeles remain at the top regardless of who you are, San Antonio and Phoenix are top destinations for Hispanics, and San Francisco is a top destination for Asians.

Regardless, home appears to be a pretty sticky place.

But what about Canadians? Are we less mobile? Looking at net domestic migration rates, Canada saw 254,143 interprovincial migrants between 2018-2019, whereas the US saw just over a million between 2020-2021. So on a per capita basis, Canada’s rate is actually higher.

Statistics Canada also estimated earlier this year that as of July 1, 2016, somewhere around 4 million Canadians were living abroad — or about 11% of citizens. This is a much higher percentage compared to Americans.

Of those living abroad, roughly half are believed to have received their citizenship through descent, meaning they were born abroad to Canadian parents. About 1/3 are Canadian citizens by birth. And about 15% are naturalized citizens.

So it turns out that Canadians are in fact pretty mobile. We also seem to like going further afield.

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