Attachment to place and migration prospects: A developmental perspective

Glen H. Elder, Valarie King, Rand D. Conger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


In the troubled economy of the rural Midwest, adolescents come of age with a future that seems increasingly less promising at home than in other places. Their growing recognition of limited opportunities may fuel a resolve to migrate to other regions, which clashes with binding attachments to local people and places. By using preferences for living near family and in the local community, obtained in the 8th and 11th grades, this longitudinal study modeled the social and developmental pathways by which adolescents approach decisions to leave home and settle in other parts of the country. Data come from 351 two-parent families in the Iowa Youth and Family Project, launched in 1989 to investigate the economic stresses and family consequences of the farm crisis. Lack of socioeconomic opportunity, relatively weak and declining ties to parents, kin, and the religious community, and strong educational prospects emerged as potent sources of a declining preference for living near family and in the local community among boys and girls. Whether coupled with family attachments or not, plans to settle elsewhere after education are linked to more elevated feelings of depression and unhappiness about life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-425
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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