Women's migration to cities

Marjolijn Das*, Willem R. Boterman, Lia Karsten, Jan J. Latten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigates the consequences of female rural-urban migration with respect to their education, career, and relationship and family formation in the Netherlands. The study is based on four birth cohorts of Dutch women born in 1970-1973 in rural areas, comparing those who had migrated to urban areas before the age of 25 with those who had remained behind. Outcomes were measured at age 42. The data were derived from administrative registers available at Statistics Netherlands. The results show that female migration to cities served to increase women's resources: they were more often university educated and had better paid jobs, in line with the idea of cities as socioeconomic escalators. The city also functioned as a relationship market with a relative abundance of men with resources. Both lower and university educated city women were more likely to be in a relationship with a highly educated man compared to their rural peers. However, lower educated women had an increased probability of being single at age 42 when they lived in cities at age 25. This was not the case for university educated women. In conclusion, for lower educated women urban migration may entail risks as well as benefits, especially with respect to family formation. University educated women on the other hand benefited both in terms of their own socioeconomic outcomes and in terms of their partners' resources.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press.


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