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Migration status, 5 years


Overview of Migration Variables:

Information on migration was first collected in 1940, out of concern over the impact of the massive internal migration experienced during the 1930's. The original mobility questions referred to "residence five years ago." All subsequent samples except 1950, the ACS and the PRCS (which asked about residence one year ago, see MIGRATE1) used the 5-year reference period. "Residence 5/1 years ago" can be used in conjunction with location of current residence to determine the extent of residential mobility and the resulting redistribution of the population across the various states, metropolitan areas, and regions of the country.

In all years, the first mobility question asked is whether the person lived in the same house in the reference year. Persons such as college students or military personnel were to report their actual residence rather than their legal residence, if the two differed. (The exception is 1940, when college students were enumerated at home rather than at their college locale). Those who answered "yes" (same house) were considered non-movers (and therefore non-migrants) and were asked no further migration questions. Non-movers include those who had moved but had returned to the same house prior to the enumeration or survey. Persons living in group quarters who resided in the same quarters five years ago are included in the non-mover ("same house") category. Movers (the mobile population) are persons living in a different house in the United States at the time of the census or survey than at the reference time. Only those providing sufficient information concerning place of residence during the reference year are included in this category. Missing information is inferred where available from other members of the person's family. Movers include those who lived in a different apartment in the same building, or in the same mobile home or houseboat but at a different location. For the mainland United States censuses, the category "Abroad" includes persons who were residing in a foreign country, Puerto Rico, or an outlying area of the U.S. in the reference period, including members of the Armed Forces and their dependents. For the Puerto Rican censuses, the Puerto Rican territory is considered equivalent to a state, and therefore "Abroad" includes persons who were residing in a foreign country, or any other outlying area of the U.S. in the reference period, including members of the Armed Forces and their dependents, but does not include Puerto Rico.

User Notes on Migration Variables:

  • Users wishing to discount college students and/or persons in the Armed Forces from migration trends - or to analyze them separately - might consider using AGE, COLL5YR (College 5 Years Ago), or MILIT5YR (Armed Forces 5 Years Ago) to identify members of these groups. College students were enumerated at home in 1940, but at their college residence thereafter. Members of the Armed Forces were consistently enumerated where they were stationed.
  • The number of persons who were living in a different house in the reference year is less than the total number of moves during the 5-year period. Some persons in the same location at the two dates had moved during the 5-year period but by the time of the census or survey had returned to their reference year residence. Other persons who were living in a different house (or in a different county, or metropolitan area, or state) had made one or more intermediate moves.

MIGRATE5 indicates whether a person age 5+ had changed residence since a reference point 5 years ago. Specifically, individuals were asked if they had lived in the "same house" (non-movers) or a "different house" (movers) five years earlier. Those who had moved were to indicate the foreign country or the state, county, and place of their normal residence during the reference year.

The category "Same house" includes all eligible persons who did not move since the reference year, as well as those who had moved but by the enumeration date had returned to their earlier residence. The category "Different house" includes persons who lived in a different house in the reference year. These movers are further subdivided according to type of move (e.g., within the same county or across state lines). The Census Bureau's migration variable supplies the least information for 1990 and 2000, reporting only same/different residence, and, in 2000, additionally identifying those previously living abroad. Therefore, for the 1990-onward samples, MIGRATE5 uses information contained in the IPUMS variable MIGPLAC5 and compatible PUMAs of migration and PUMAs of residence to indicate whether movers migrated between states or within the same state (the same levels of detail in earlier classifications). For movers who migrated between states, a detailed version of MIGRATE5 indicates whether they moved between contiguous or non-contiguous states. In samples with available PUMA information, detailed MIGRATE5 also indicates whether movers moved within or between PUMAs.

Codes and Frequencies

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In the 1960 census, persons living in Alaska or Hawaii in 1955, but living in other states in 1960, were classified as living in a different state in 1955, even though Alaska and Hawaii were not admitted to the union until 1959. In 1940 (and in 1950 in MIGRATE1), Alaska and Hawaii are not counted as states.

Non-responses to the migration question are coded as "unknown" in 1940 and as N/A in 1960-1970. For 1980-2000, non-responses were replaced by allocated values.

In 1980, responses to questions about migration were coded for only half the persons included in the IPUMS. These cases provide accurate proportional distributions but not correct absolute numbers for the general population. For correct absolute numbers, users should select cases coded as 2 in MIGSAMP and multiply by 2 as well as by PERWT.

MIGRATE1 supplies analogous information about moves since a reference point one year ago, for sample-line persons age 1+ in 1950 and for all persons age 1+ in the ACS and the PRCS.


  • 1940: Persons age 5+. Not living in AK or HI.
  • 1960-1970: Persons age 5+.
  • 1980: Persons age 5+; 50 percent of cases (see MIGSAMP).
  • 1990-2000: Persons age 5+.


United States
Puerto Rico
  • 2022: --
  • 2021: --
  • 2020: --
  • 2019: --
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  • 2005: --
  • 2000: All samples
  • 1990: All samples
  • 1980: All samples
  • 1970: All samples
  • 1930: --
  • 1920: --
  • 1910: --



Editing Procedure

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