The Made in America blog casts in interesting contrarian argument about the idea of mobility in America.
Although the commonly held belief is that people are moving farther away from where they grew up (and more frequently), MIA points out that Census Bureau data shows that residential mobility has actually been declining for a long time (see graph above).
That is, while we cannot be sure of exactly what the rates of residential mobility were in the 19th century, we can be pretty sure they were much greater than they are now. That was an era of mass moves, unemployed men tramping the streets, and city families regularly moving every year on “moving day,” May 1.
…Americans in the upper reaches of society may well move around farther today than a few generations ago. Attending highly-ranked colleges, getting post-graduate training, having a professional career, and marrying another highly-educated professional leads people to make big moves, say, from one coast to the other and back (as I have). But, for most Americans, the twentieth century was one of settling down.