Staying in or Moving out? – Quality of Life, Interregional Migration Decisions and Covid-19
Although COVID-19 is a global health emergency, it is experienced in local contexts, which may not all be equally equipped to offer good quality of life in pandemic conditions. Exogenous shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and associated “lockdown” policies, may lead to a re-evaluation of the costs and benefits of specific places as residential location, e.g., because certain location factors or amenities suddenly shift in relevance. How did the COVID-19 pandemic and “lockdown” policies affect the costs and benefits of residential locations? And how may this be reflected in patterns of migration flows and settlement structure? This project aims to investigate the role of quality of life in interregional migration and, through this lens, to examine potential consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for urban and rural population growth.
The project analyses the case of Germany using two methodological perspectives: first, based on secondary data of aggregate migration flows and second, for individual decision-making via an online experiment in the context of spatial choice modelling. The contribution of this project is, on the one hand, to provide empirical evidence on the consequences of COVID-19 for migration and, by extension, for urban and rural population growth. On the other hand, with an experimental approach, this project implements a methodology that is still rarely applied in the field of geography but could support our understanding of decision-making processes for migration behaviour. Thus, the project offers empirical evidence on socio-spatial consequences of COVID-19 and contributes to the migration literature, but also aims to engage with the interdisciplinary potential of integrating more experimental approaches into geographic research.
“Receiving the RSA Early Career Grant is a great opportunity to strengthen my research and focus on a topic that I am very excited about. There is still much to learn about the consequences of COVID-19 on migration and the grant gives me the chance to explore this while also developing a new and interdisciplinary aspect of my research. I am honoured and very grateful that this project will be supported by the RSA.”
Principal Investigator: Paula Prenzel
Paula Prenzel is Assistant Professor of Regional Development at the University of Greifswald, Germany. She studied economics and regional studies in Maastricht and Groningen and holds a PhD in Economic Geography from the London School of Economics. Her research engages with consequences of demographic change, diversity and migration for local economic development, focusing on how changes in population size and composition may shape regional economic and innovative processes.