Conceptually, adopting a life course approach when analysing residential mobility enables us to investigate how experiencing particular life events affects mobility decision-making and behaviour throughout individual lifetimes. Yet although a growing body of longitudinal research links mobility decision-making to subsequent moving behaviour, most studies focus solely upon examining year-to-year transitions. As a result of this 'snap-shot' approach, little is known about how pre-move thoughts and subsequent mobility relate over longer periods within the context of dynamic life course trajectories. Current research therefore fails to distinguish ephemeral moving desires from those which are persistently expressed. This study is one of the first to move beyond investigating year-to-year transitions to explore the long term sequencing of moving desires and mobility behaviour within individual life courses. Using innovative techniques to visualise the sequences of a panel of British Household Panel Survey respondents, the study demonstrates that the meanings and significance of particular transitions in moving desires and mobility behaviour become apparent only when these transitions are arranged into individual mobility histories. We uncover previously ignored groups of individuals persistently unable to act in accordance with their moving desires. Visualising mobility histories also highlights the oft-neglected importance of residential stability over the life course.
residential mobility moving desires life course sequence analysis longitudinal data