Studies show that Americans, including Pennsylvania residents, are moving less often than they did 50 years ago. One researcher claims in a new study that divorce and child custody are to blame for the decrease in migration.

For years, demographers have been unable to pinpoint why U.S. migration patterns have declined. Some theories have included the aging American population, home ownership and a poor economy. However, the economy has surged and dipped numerous times over the past 50 years while migration patterns have steadily decreased.

The author of the study noticed that divorce rates have increased over the last 50 years, so he decided to see if people are staying rooted in one place in order to maintain family connections after a separation. His analysis confirmed the theory, concluding that divorced parents are less likely to move than individuals who have no children. The study also found that the rise in joint custody and telecommuting contributed to people staying put after divorce. The author of the study noted that migration is a learned behavior, so future generations may also move less frequently. This could slow or reverse America’s “melting pot” of cultures, which could lead to less community diversity.

Individuals facing the end of a marriage may benefit by speaking to an attorney. A lawyer could review the details of a case and help negotiate agreements for property division, division of assets, child custody, alimony and other important divorce legal issues.

Source: UCONN, “Divorce Contributes to Decline in U.S. Migration,” Christine Buckley, Aug. 16, 2016