Internal migration over young adult life courses: Continuities and changes across cohorts in West Germany

Sergi Vidal*, Katharina Lutz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines internal migration as part of unfolding life courses, scrutinizing stability and change across socio-historical contexts from post-war Germany. We inquire whether the structure of family and labour market life courses intersect with migration experience in early adult ages for men and women born around 1939–41, 1949–51, 1964 and 1971. We then establish how recent changes in the transition to adulthood are reflected in the life courses of internal migrants. We accomplish this using exploratory mining of event histories on retrospective monthly records of life events occurring between ages 16 and 30 from the West German samples of the German Life History Study. Our descriptive analyses reveal that the structure of young adults’ life courses intersects with internal migration experience. Differences in the life courses of movers and stayers have increased across socio-historical periods, and are more apparent in the labour market trajectory than in the family trajectory. Diversity in internal migrants’ trajectories reflect the complex ways in which young adults negotiate life courses, and align with the generalized protraction of school-to-work transitions and the delay of family projects. Our research adds to recent studies that underline the value of situating migration events in the wider biographical and structural contexts. Findings contribute to map in efficient ways the full complexity of individual life courses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Cohort comparison
  • Internal migration
  • Life course
  • Sequence analysis
  • West Germany


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