Population mobility across regions

Since 2015, within-country migration of people below 30 years old has been almost exclusively concentrated towards metropolitan regions.

Differences in economic opportunities or amenities can drive people to move within a country. The resulting mobility of people has wide-ranging implications for the region affecting the demographic structure of the local population, the labour markets and local housing costs.

Between 2015 and 2018, 33 million people changed their region of residence per year, on average, in the 30 OECD countries with available data. These mobility flows across regions corresponded to 2.5% of the total population in the OECD area. However, regional mobility varied significantly across countries, ranging from around 5% of the total population in Hungary and Korea to less than 0.5% in the Slovak Republic (Figure 4.19).

Inter-regional migration does not affect all regions of a country in the same way. While metropolitan regions and regions near a metropolitan area record significant positive net inflows, other types of regions often face net outflows. In the 27 OECD countries with available data, metropolitan regions and regions near a metropolitan area experienced an average net inflow of 9 and 12 persons per every 10 000 inhabitants between 2015 and 2018 respectively (Figure 4.20). In contrast, regions far from a metropolitan area experienced net outflows of 9 persons, for every 10 000 inhabitants. Looking at individual regions, Sejong (Korea), Parinacota (Chile), and Flagstaff (United States) were the regions with the highest positive net migration rate, corresponding to 12%, 3.8% and 2.8% of the regional population respectively (Figure 4.21). In contrast, during the same period, Trier (Germany), Anchorage (United States) and Noord-Drenthe (Netherlands) experienced net out-migration that corresponded to 12%, 5.1% and 4.2% of the respective regional population.

Mobility of young people (aged from 15 to 29 years) represents more than half of the total within-country migration. In almost all OECD countries for which data is available, young people move almost exclusively to metropolitan regions, as they seek educational and professional opportunities (Figure 4.22). On average, metropolitan regions have captured 95% of within-country youth migration during the last four years. Greece represents an exception to those trends, as regions with small-/medium-sized cities and remote regions actually recorded positive net inflows possibly driven by high youth unemployment that has resulted in young people returning to live with their families.

OECD (2020), OECD Regional Statistics (database), OECD, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/region-data-en.

2015-18; TL3 or TL3 regions classified according to metropolitan access classification.

Fadic, M. et al. (2019), “Classifying small (TL3) regions based on metropolitan population, low density and remoteness”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2019/06, OECD Publishing, Parishttps://doi.org/10.1787/b902cc00-en.

Territorial grids and regional typology (Annex A)

Figure 4.19 to Figure 4.21: 4-year average, 2015-18.

Figure 4.22: N-M access to a metro: Non-metropolitan region with access to a metro; N-M access to s/m city: Non-metropolitan region with access to a small/medium city.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2020

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at http://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.