Examining Multilevel Correlates of Geographic Mobility in a Sample of US Young Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of community health




COVID-19 pandemic; Human mobility; Migration; Mobility patterns


Before the COVID-19 pandemic, geographic mobility, previously viewed as an indicator of economic stability, was declining among young adults. Yet, these trends shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic; young adults were more likely to move during COVID-19 for reasons related to reducing disease transmission and fewer educational and job opportunities. Few studies have documented the individual and neighborhood characteristics of young adults who moved before and during the pandemic. We used data from a cohort of young adults aged 18-34 in six metropolitan areas to examine individual- and neighborhood-level predictors of mobility before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sample was majority female, white, and educated with a bachelor's degree or more. Residents in neighborhoods they lived in were mostly White, US-born, employed, and lived above the poverty level. Before the pandemic, identifying as a sexual minority was significantly related to mobility. During the pandemic, being younger, single, and non-Hispanic were significantly related to mobility. Higher neighborhood poverty was significantly related to mobility before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Future studies that examine young adult populations who moved during the pandemic are needed to determine whether COVID-19 related moves increase economic instability and subsequent health-related outcomes.


Prevention and Community Health