For some time now, public opinion polls have revealed Americans’ strong preference to live in comparatively small cities, towns, and rural areas rather than in large cities. However, as Fuguitt and Zuiches (1975) have reported, the majority of people also want these places to be within commuting distance of a large metropolitan city. This research tests the hypothesis that size-of-place and urban proximity preferences are factors in the dispersal of population through migration. A one-year panel survey of Pennsylvania households indicates that only about one household in ten that moved actually attained its preference for a smaller-sized place or a location more distant from a large city. Preferences for smaller-sized places and proximity to a city were not correlated with where people actually moved when the size and proximity of the previous residence were taken into consideration.

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