Stability and Change: The Role of Residential Mobility in Children’s Development
(Housing and Community Development)
Thursday, November 12, 2015: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Miami Lecture Hall (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Amanda L. Roy, University of Illinois, Chicago
Panel Chairs: Dana Charles McCoy, Harvard University
Discussants: Kathleen Ziol-Guest, New York University
Approximately 10-17% of U.S. children and adolescents move each year (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013); an experience that is more common among younger children and children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. There is growing evidence that residential mobility is associated with a range of adverse outcomes for children, including detriments in health, academic achievement, and behavioral and self-regulatory skills (e.g. Jelleyman & Spencer, 2008; Roy, Raver, & McCoy, 2014; Schmitt et al., 2015). Despite growing evidence that residential mobility plays an important role in children’s development, there are several key gaps in our understanding. First, residential mobility does not occur in isolation, but rather co-occurs with disruptions (changes in household composition, changing schools) or supports (provision of family services) in other areas of children’s lives. Therefore, questions remain as to how the co-occurrence of residential mobility and other types of disruptive or stabilizing experiences may serve to exacerbate or buffer the relationship between residential mobility and children’s outcomes. Second, decisions to move are motivated by different factors; some of these may be negative (loss of a job, divorce), while others may be positive (buying a house, getting a job). Almost nothing is known about whether the motivations behind a move moderate the relationship between residential mobility and children’s outcomes. Finally, although we know that residential moves are more likely to occur during early childhood, little is known about whether the developmental timing of residential mobility may differently affect children’s outcomes. Using three different data sources, these papers explore these gaps in the literature. Understanding when, where, and how mobility and instability affect children is an important first step towards developing effective policy and intervention strategies.
All three papers address the aforementioned gaps in different ways. In paper 1, the authors use data from the NICHD SECCYD to examine the joint influence of residential and school mobility on children’s academic and behavioral skills over time. They find that repeated moves, over context and time, are particularly detrimental for children’s outcomes. Using data from the Head Start Impact Study, in paper 2 the authors focus on a sub-sample of young children living in non-parental care. Examining the intersection between residential mobility and the receipt of family services, they find that residential mobility is related to higher externalizing problems but that the influence of mobility on internalizing problems is moderated by the receipt of family services. In paper 3, the authors use data from Making Connections to consider whether residential mobility’s effects on child health are moderated by household instability and motivations for moving. Results indicate that moves that are motivated or accompanied by changes in household composition may be protective for child health. Findings from all three papers will be discussed in terms of their policy implications, specifically, how and for whom policies may be effective and appropriate targets for future intervention.