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New research finds that women still lose out when couples move for job reasons

Originally Published 22 February 2000
When British couples move, gender discrimination is alive and well. It is the man's job that dominates. That is the finding from new research by a team of economists into what happens when people move home for job reasons.

After following the lives of 15,000 randomly sampled workers over many years, the authors found a marked difference between the mobility choices of men and women. The researchers, Professor Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick, and Ms Gaelle Pierre and Mr Jonathan Gardner, discovered that being single had a large positive effect on women's ability to move for career reasons. Having no partner increased their moving probability by 23 percent. This was not true of men: being in a relationship did not affect the mobility of British males. The results are consistent with the view that men exert the main influence on the mobility decisions of couples.
The two sets of data examined by the researchers show that, once in a relationship, women tend to move because of their partner's jobs. Professor Oswald said: "We can infer that women are more likely to move because their partner wants to: British women still fit around their men's careers."
The researchers also drew the following conclusions from their analysis:
  • In any year, approximately three out of every one hundred British people move home for job reasons. These workers account for 14 percent of all residential movers, and for 6 percent of those who change employer.
  • Unemployed people in Britain are the most likely, once other factors are held constant, to move house for job reasons.
  • Divorce increases men's mobility, and decreases women's.
  • Higher childhood IQ test scores are a predictor of greater mobility later in life.
  • Single young people are the most mobile group in society. Over a decade, just under a quarter (22%) of single people aged 23-33 move for career reasons.
  • Private rental housing seems to have an important effect in helping to produce a mobile workforce. Holding everything else constant, private renters are nearly 40% more likely to move home for job reasons.

Note for Editors: The paper uses two recent sources of information in the 1990s. The British Household Panel Study, or BHPS, and the National Child Development Study, or NCDS (which provides information on all the people who were born in a particular week in 1958).

For further information please contact:

Professor Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics
University of Warwick Tel: 024 76 523510 (Office),
01367 860005 (Home)
email (office) (home)