Analysing the effects of residential mobility behaviours on the composition of personal network in Switzerland

Guillaume Drevon, Gil Viry, Vincent Kaufmann, Eric D. Widmer, Jacques Antoine Gauthier, Olga Ganjour

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Individual life courses are marked by residential mobility events often associated with family and workplace changes, and therefore likely to be related to the types of social relationships people develop and maintain. Evidence about the relationship between residential mobility behaviours over the life course and personal network composition is however scarce. This study investigates how the types of residential mobility behaviours in Switzerland influence the composition of core personal networks among 742 individuals. Results show that people with low residential mobility have personal networks centred around the partner and vertical family ties (parents children), suggesting that strong intergenerational ties develop in close proximity. By contrast, longer-distance residential moves at the metropolitan level are associated with smaller personal networks centred around horizontal ties (friends, siblings). People with residential mobility experiences at the national level do not significantly differ from non-movers in the composition of their personal network when controlling for socio-demographic characteristics. Likewise, networks including in-laws and extended family members and large networks including both family and friends were not associated with a particular residential behavior. The selection and adaptation processes after migration, but also the density of the Swiss transport system enabling people to stay connected to family and friends may partly explain the weak association between residential mobility behaviours and the composition of core personal networks.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2472
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Early online date19 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Apr 2021


  • ellipse
  • personal network
  • residential mobility
  • social ties

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