Moving repeatedly in childhood linked with poorer quality-of-life years later

June 3, 2010, American Psychological Association

Moving to a new town or even a new neighborhood is stressful at any age, but a new study shows that frequent relocations in childhood are related to poorer well-being in adulthood, especially among people who are more introverted or neurotic.

The researchers tested the relation between the number of childhood moves and well-being in a sample of 7,108 American adults who were followed for 10 years. The findings are reported in the June issue of the , published by the American Psychological Association.

"We know that who move frequently are more likely to perform poorly in school and have more behavioral problems," said the study's lead author, Shigehiro Oishi, PhD, of the University of Virginia. "However, the long-term effects of moving on well-being in have been overlooked by researchers."

The study's participants, who were between the ages of 20 and 75, were contacted as part of a nationally representative random sample survey in 1994 and 1995 and were surveyed again 10 years later. They were asked how many times they had moved as children, as well as about their psychological well-being, personality type and .

The researchers found that the more times people moved as children, the more likely they were to report lower life satisfaction and psychological well-being at the time they were surveyed, even when controlling for age, gender and . The research also showed that those who moved frequently as children had fewer quality social relationships as adults.

The researchers also looked to see if different personality types - extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism - affected frequent movers' well-being. Among introverts, the more moves participants reported as children, the worse off they were as adults. This was in direct contrast to the findings among extraverts. "Moving a lot makes it difficult for people to maintain long-term close relationships," said Oishi. "This might not be a serious problem for outgoing people who can make friends quickly and easily. Less outgoing people have a harder time making new friends."

The findings showed neurotic people who moved frequently reported less and poorer psychological well-being than people who did not move as much and people who were not neurotic. Neuroticism was defined for this study as being moody, nervous and high strung. However, the number and quality of neurotic people's relationships had no effect on their well-being, no matter how often they had moved as children. In the article, Oishi speculates this may be because neurotic people have more negative reactions to stressful life events in general.

The researchers also looked at mortality rates among the participants and found that people who moved often as children were more likely to die before the second wave of the study. They controlled for age, gender and race. "We can speculate that moving often creates more stress and stress has been shown to have an ill effect on people's health," Oishi said. "But we need more research on this link before we can conclude that moving often in childhood can, in fact, be dangerous to your health in the long-term."

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4.7 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2010
Being a 'military brat', I've lived in 14 states and 2 countries. I know the study bears up. I've talked with many other brats and the same things emerge.
No, or few life long friends.
No concept of where "home" is; for me it was where I lived in high school.

If it were possible for the military to consider moving groups of people from base to base, so that kids and families can have more of a normalized life, then the military could eliminate some of the bad things about all the moves

1 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2010
Bob B.
I am in complete agreement with you. I'm surprised, though, that this is considered some kind of new finding- I've read similar conclusions many times in the past.
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
So let's be clear. Occupations, dare I say professions, that are controlled by a man made bureaucracy such as soldier, minister, and young corporate executive are less than ideal for the children of those families. For all the benefits of wealth and power our modern industrial, urban, and corporate world offer the few, the many future generations suffer. This may offer a new insight into why the Highland Clearances where even more destructive than has been widely accepted. Improvements indeed!

The ancient tribes, so reviled by modernity, may have been wiser than they've been given credit for. With their notion of being married to the land. A truly enlightened society would endeavour to provide stability for families. Any policy or action which creates refugees, economic or otherwise, is the antithesis of desirability.
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
As another military brat I moved around a lot, attending 4 grade schools and 3 high schools. I have a modest desire for long term friends and have a few but it is difficult to maintain friendships as life circumstances change through the years. My wife and I have been married for 39 years, however. My older sister who went through the same moves was also married for a long time (till her military husband died). Her two children also moved frequently and have long-term marriages in the works, themselves. So there are some outliers in the data.
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
Can you imagine how stressful it will be to move to Mars? Or outside our solar system? Or to leave the galaxy all-together? Or who knows even move to a different universe ( death not included) ?!
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
Our Universe is home. Also Earth, solar systems, galaxies, & other celestial phenoms. Our family is us, you and I, (U.n.I.). Everyone and every thing is related, fact. Even reflecting of total isolation, 1 is never alone, for our Universe surrounds us, enraptured.
not rated yet Jun 05, 2010
This seems to be a subset of the set of "Three Culture Kids" (aka "Cross Cultural Kids," and "Multiculture Kids") which has been studied for some time. See http://www.tckid....experts/ for references. I am a member of this set and have been since age 2. I can attest to the fact that many kids handle the moving and multicultural exposures just fine, although, from my experiences with my HS graduating class of 50, that may not translate into adulthood. Some kids, as kids, don't handle the moving so well (about 20% if my memory of reading past studies serves); I didn't. In my military career, I chose not to expose children to the environment that I experienced.
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
As a military brat and psychology professor, I find that the fact that the reasons for the moves being left out reduces the validity of this study. For example women with kids who move frequently due to evading an abusive husband or simply looking for a better life will experience a different kinds of stress than military, clergy, educational, political or executive moves to due to enhanced job opportunities. Also, even within military families, those who move together will experience different kinds of stress than when the military personnel is deployed and spouse is left to handle the details. I was lucky because our family looked at each move as an adventure. In fact, we lamented when my Dad retired and the prospect of moving ended.
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
True there are always variables in everything. I had made myself well aware of the causes of challenges I faced. True moving was a fun "adventure" but the relationship aspect was a huge factor. How can you experience, best friends, friends to rely on and to be there for each other if you always move away from them? Not a few times, but many! For your first 12 years. I also was married for 24 years, now seperated. Did I stay married unhappily much of it for fear of lonliness reasons? I have felt lonely my entire life. I know there are many stories, both good and bad. But, I feel stability in an up bringing far out weighs the opposite.

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