April 18, 2013

A sense of place

Americans are an unsettled people. Census records  (PDF) show that a third to nearly half of us moved at least once in the previous five years. The period 2005-2010 showed the lowest rate,  35.4 percent, in the past 40 years.

Geographical Mobility: 2005 to 2010

Even though the unemployed have a higher mobility rate than the general population, the  collapse of home prices seems to have kept people in place. Most moves, when they do take place, occur within the same county.
We still like to keep in touch. A study of our phone call patterns shows how frequently we call people within certain regions.

The Connected States of America

Worcester makes a lot of calls within the Northeast, but has surprisingly strong phone connections to Florida and southern California and Arizona.
Americans aren’t the only ones to move, to shake off our past and plot our futures. A hundred years ago, we had a time of singular convergence. Although there’s no record that they ever met, we learn from a BBC story that Hitler, Trotsky, Tito, Freud and Stalin lived in Vienna.

BBC — 1913: When Hitler, Trotsky, Tito, Freud and Stalin all lived in the same place

None of them was born in Vienna and all changed their names before making the 20th century.