Population mobility among regions

Inter-regional mobility within countries is an important component of the change in the demographic structure and in the labour force supply.

In the 29 observed OECD countries, 24 million people changed their region of residence yearly in the period 2011-13. This movement corresponded to almost 5% of total population in Korea and Hungary, less than 0.5% in the Slovak Republic and 2% of the total population in the OECD area, more than four times the value of the international migration rate to OECD countries (Figure 4.8).

Regional migration does not affect all regions of a country equally: Division 16, Alberta (Canada), Gümüshane (Turkey) and North Aegean (Greece) were the TL3 regions with the highest positive net migration rate, 3.4%, 2.2% and 1.6% of the regional population, respectively. Agri (Turkey), the Northern Territory-Outback (Australia) and the Region 5, Northwest Territories (Canada) were among the TL3 regions with the highest negative net migration rates (Figure 4.9).

On aggregate, the net migration rate in the predominantly urban regions of 26 OECD countries was 6 people per 10 000 population in 2011-13 versus -2 and -10 in intermediate and rural regions, respectively. However, net migration rates were negative in urban regions in Korea, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Portugal and Belgium. On average rural regions were net recipients of regional migration in Korea, Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Portugal (Figure 4.10).

Distance to labour markets and services seems to explain migration within OECD countries: with the exception of Turkey, the United States, and Sweden, remote rural regions – i.e. regions which are far in driving distance from urban agglomerations – show higher net negative flows than predominantly rural regions.

The mobility of youth aged from 15 to 29 years old, which represents 10% of the total internal mobility for the observed 17 countries, is, on average, a migration from rural to urban regions where higher education facilities and more diverse job opportunities can be found. In Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and the Slovak Republic, more than 90% of young migrants move to predominantly urban regions. Rural regions in Japan will bear the largest share of the future decline in population because of the already high incidence of an elderly population reinforced by out-migration of young people. In contrast, the youth migration flows towards Izmir (Turkey), Gyeonggi-do (Korea) or Inner London-West (United Kingdom), even if still positive, decreased by 30% in the years following the economic crisis (Figure 4.11).


Data refer to yearly flows of population from one TL3 region to another TL3 region of the same country (regional migration). Outflows are represented as the number of persons who left the region the previous year to reside in another region of the country, while inflows are represented as the number of new residents in the region coming from another region of the country.

The net migration flow is defined as the difference between inflows and outflows in a region. A negative net migration flow means that more migrants left the region than entered it.

Young migrants are those aged between 15 and 29.


OECD (2015), OECD Regional Statistics (database), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/region-data-en.

See Annex B for data sources and country-related metadata.

Reference years and territorial level

2009-13; TL3.

Data for Chile, France, Ireland and New Zealand are not available at regional level.

Further information

Territorial grids and regional typology (Annex A).

Figure notes

 4.8- 4.10: Available years: Germany 2011-12; Greece, Portugal, Slovenia and United States 2011; Mexico and Netherlands 2010.

 4.9: For Canada, the migration flows exclude the region of Stikine, British Columbia.

 4.11: Available years: Germany 2009-12, Japan 2010-13, Portugal 2011. United Kingdom data do not include Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Greece and Iceland do not have net positive flows in predominantly urban regions.

Information on data for Israel: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888932315602.

4.8. Annual regional migration rate, average 2011-13
Flows across TL3 regions, % of total population


4.9. Maximum and minimum annual regional migration rate, average 2011-13
Net flows across TL3 regions, % of total population


4.10. Annual regional migration rate per typology of region, average 2011-13
Net flows across TL3 regions per 10 000 population


4.11. Young migrants in urban regions as a % of young migrants in the country, 2009 and 2013
Positive net flows of youth migration across TL3 regions