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Landscape influence on recent rural migration in the U.S

McGranahan, D.A.
Landscape and urban planning 2008 v.85 no.3-4 pp. 228-240
topography, mathematical models, habitat preferences, migratory behavior, landscapes, human behavior, rural areas, United States
This study of recent rural (nonmetropolitan) migration in the U.S. finds that, consistent with research on landscape preferences, people have been most drawn to areas with a mix of forest and open land, water area, topographical variation, and relatively little cropland. A simultaneous equation model of 1990-2000 change in jobs and net migration indicates that landscape features influenced migration directly, not through effects on employment. An inordinate rise in housing values in the most highly scenic areas in 1990-2000 was associated with an exceptional slowing of migration to those areas in 2000-2005, an indication that housing supply constraints such as land use regulation may now be dampening the ties between landscape preferences and migration in rural areas. The study findings on current habitat selection are particularly interesting given the frequent conjecture that landscape preferences are adaptive, reflecting the most suitable habitats for early man.