Personal mobility

The proportion of people who stay in the same location in which they grew up is decreasing considerably. People are also travelling further and more frequently in their everyday lives, and are relocating more often. The average commute increased by 17% in the last decade. The number of people who live in one location during the week and in another over the weekend is growing.

In the future environmental concerns may impact on the ‘right to mobility’ (see climate change). In the shorter term rising transport costs will impact on people's ability to afford long commutes and rising capital gains taxes will impact on the number of second homes.

What are the implications?

  • Changing family structures as families become geographically dispersed.
  • Looser geographical ties leading to a changing sense of community.
  • Increased isolation as people become detached from traditional family and community networks.
  • Potential difficulty in engaging people in community activities where people split their living between two locations.

Moving forward

Weaker geographical and family ties could lead to a ‘responsibility gap’ - meaning that some more vulnerable people such as the elderly or the disabled may fall outside the care or responsibility of their family, community, VCOs or other governmental institutions.

  • Is this increasing the need for the services that your organisation provides?

As people move and relocate more frequently, some local area communities might find it difficult to engage people in their activities as people feel dislocated from the area in which they live.

  • How can your organisation engage with local people in your community and encourage them to become more involved in community activities and projects?
  • Do you need separate strategies for attracting long-term locals and newcomers?

Longer commutes can impact on the free time that people have to volunteer or engage with VCOs (see time and energy deficit).

  • Does your organisation offer flexible opportunities to volunteers, e.g. flexible hours or 'job shares' (see trends in volunteering)?
  • Will increasing commuting costs change the opportunities volunteers are seeking? Will there be an increased demand for roles that maintain a volunteer's existing skills or help develop new skills?

Want to know more?

Cost of commuting set to soar

Published by: Daily Telegraph, a right-of-centre daily broadsheet

Date: August 2010

Format: Web

What is it? This article discusses the potential impact of proposed changes in the regulation of rail fares. A major concern is the potential for commuters to reject rail in favour of car travel.

How useful is this? This article raises the issue and gives some projections of potential fares. However, it should be taken more as a cautionary article based on educated guesses rather than as a rigorous analysis.

Geographical mobility: family impacts

Published by: The Joseph Rowntree Foundation – a research and development charity

Date: 2006

Format: Web (summary – full report is available to purchase)

What is it? This is a summary of a report looking at the effects of job relocations on families.

How useful is this? This report focuses on the relocation aspect of personal mobility and outlines that geographical mobility presents a potential tension in relation to the government family and work-life balance policy.  It explores factors including: why employers initiate relocation; who is more likely to relocate; the views of partners of relocating employees; impacts on career development; and long term impacts of family life.  Key findings include that employees are increasingly likely to resist relocation by companies because of family ties and are more likely to set limits on relocation to achieve a work-life balance.

Going places: neighbourhood, ethnicity and social mobility

Published by: IPPR – a left of centre think tank

Date: 2006

Format: PDF

What is it? This book contains a set of essays exploring the links between social and geographical mobility.

How useful is this? This book looks at geographical mobility both within the UK and at migration into the UK.The introduction provides a good starting point, in particular exploring: the importance of geographical mobility to achieve social mobility; the effect of position in society on people’s need and ability to move; and the policy background.  Some chapters focus more on social mobility, but Chapter 1 and 4 are particularly relevant to geographical mobility.  Chapter 1 documents results of a US experiment to move people in public housing in high-poverty neighbourhoods to private rental housing in low-poverty neighbourhoods and Chapter 4 looks migration and social mobility.

Last updated at 15:56 Wed 30/Mar/11.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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