Migration to and from Greater London: An irregular escalator?

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After the collapse of the housing boom of the late 1980s, Greater London saw a contraction in net outflow and a revival in population growth, despite the recession hit the region more severely than anywhere else in the country. This was the outcome of reduced gross outflow (rather than increased gross inflow), suggesting that, during the period of falling house prices, owner-occupiers in London wishing to migrate faced greater difficulty in selling one property to buy another at the desired destination. Capital gain from a house seems to cover a substantial part of the relocation cost for owner-occupiers, and this is especially true for Britain where only limited housing in the private rented sector exists due to public policy. This adds to our knowledge of why mobility diminishes during recessionary periods since difficulty in realizing capital from a house inhibits owner-occupiers from migrating. The dynamic application of Fielding's (1992) 'escalator region' model to migration changes in Greater London during the boom shows that the escalator smoothly sends middle-aged and older people with their child(ren) to the suburbs while receicing young adults from all over the country; whereas during recession, the escalator became less effective and the population became trapped in the region. The concentration of young adults in Greater London means that the high birth rate necessitates some rate of net outflow to maintain the population size, but dysfunction in the escalator leads to positive growth in population. The aging of the population composition commences at the same time, since the population is unable to step off the escalator. Migration to and from Greater London has the role of conserving the regional demographics rather than otherwise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-55
Number of pages12
JournalGeographical Review of Japan, Series A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Jan


  • Business cycle
  • Greater London
  • Housing market
  • Internal migration
  • Net migration by age


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