Understanding residential mobility in early childhood is important for contextualizing family, school, and neighborhood influences on child well-being. We examined the consequences of residential mobility for socioemotional and cognitive kindergarten readiness using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, a nationally representative longitudinal survey that followed U.S. children born in 2001 from infancy to kindergarten. We described individual, household, and neighborhood characteristics associated with residential mobility for children aged 0–5. Our residential mobility indicators examined frequency of moves, nonlinearities in move frequency, quality of moves, comparisons between moving houses and moving neighborhoods, and heterogeneity in the consequences of residential mobility. Nearly three-quarters of children moved by kindergarten start. Mobility did not predict cognitive scores. More moves, particularly at relatively high frequencies, predicted lower kindergarten behavior scores. Moves from socioeconomically advantaged to disadvantaged neighborhoods were especially problematic, whereas moves within a ZIP code were not. The implications of moves were similar across socioeconomic status. The behavior findings largely support an instability perspective that highlights potential disruptions from frequent or problematic moves. Our study contributes to literature emphasizing the importance of contextualizing residential mobility. The high prevalence and distinct implications of early childhood moves support the need for further research.

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