Poverty, residential mobility, and student transiency within a rural New York school district

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Human capital models assume residential mobility is both voluntary and opportunity-driven. Residential mobility of low income households, however, often does not fit these assumptions. Often characterized by short-distance, high frequency movement, poverty-related mobility may only deepen the social and economic instability that precipitated the movement in the first place. Children may be particularly affected because of disrupted social and academic environments. Among community institutions schools often experience significant student turnover as a consequence. This paper presents a case study of student transiency and residential instability within an impoverished rural New York school district, examining both enrollment change data and residential histories collected from economically disadvantaged parents of mobile students. It finds that poverty-related mobility is frequently not voluntary but the consequence of precipitating social and economic crises at the household level in combination with the inability to obtain adequate and affordable housing. Hence, poverty-related hypermobility may be interpreted as both a consequence and determinant of rural community disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-231
Number of pages20
JournalRural Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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