Lifetime stayers in urban, rural, and highly rural communities in Montana


community, immobility, mobility, rural, stayers


Modernity can be characterised by a shift from a communal to an individual orientation where social mobility is one of individuals' primary goals. However, for individuals to achieve social mobility, they often must also be geographically mobile. Consequently, geographic immobility or staying in place needs to be theorised and examined directly. In this context, the life course perspective provides a useful framework to understand staying. The role transitions associated with different life stages represent different decision points where choices to stay must be deliberate. We use state‐representative data from Montana (USA) in 2010 to perform an exploratory analysis of stayers. Using a variety of community and individual predictors, we find that high community attachment, low satisfaction with one's community, and/or local services make being a stayer more likely. In separate models of being a stayer by rurality, age group, educational attainment, and having a dependent in the home, the pattern of results suggests that interpretations of high attachment and low satisfaction among stayers as being indicators of being “stuck” may be incorrect. Instead, even in the absence of being satisfied with one's community, community attachment may be indicative of deliberate decisions to stay. We discuss the limitations of addressing staying using cross‐sectional data and suggest future avenues for better understanding those who stay in place throughout their lives.

Original Publication Citation

Erickson, Lance D., Scott Sanders, Michael R. Cope. (Forthcoming). “Lifetime Stayers in Urban, Rural, and Highly Rural Communities in Montana.” Population, Space and Place.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Population, Space and Place




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor