Skip to content

A look at male and female movers by age

This short report looks at the sex ratio of internal migrants for the year ending June 2013.

Published as a supplement to the annual internal migration publication, this report looks at the sex ratio of internal migrants for the year ending June 2013. The two key definitions in this report are:

  1. Internal migration, which refers here to residential moves between local authorities in England and Wales, as well as moves to or from the rest of the UK (Scotland and Northern Ireland). Internal Migration Methodology, 2014 (343.1 Kb Pdf) explains how estimates are calculated.

  2. Sex ratios refer to the number of males for every 100 females. This may refer either to the sex ratio of the population as a whole, or to the sex ratio of internal migrants. For example, at age 35 the sex ratio of internal migrants was 107. This means that for every 100 female movers between local authorities there were 107 male movers.

Figure 1 shows a comparison between the sex ratio of the UK population and the sex ratio of internal migrants by age. The age of internal migrants is based on age at June 2013 rather than age at date of move.

The UK population sex ratio (green line) starts at 105 at age 0, reflecting the fact that there are more baby boys born than baby girls. The sex ratio at any subsequent age will be influenced by international migration either into or out of the UK, as well as by the number of deaths. At all ages males are more likely to die than females but the sex ratio stays close to 100 up to people in their 60s (National Life Tables, 2011-2013 (ONS, 2014)). At older ages it then gets progressively lower, reflecting the fact that more females than males have survived to that age. For the over 90s the sex ratio is 39, meaning there are only 39 males left for every 100 females.

The sex ratio of internal migrants (blue line) differs substantially. As Figure 1 shows, for young children it is similar to the overall population sex ratio. However, there is a peak in the early teenage year of age 14, indicating a disproportionately high number of males moving at that age.

The internal migration sex ratio then falls as low as 69 in the younger adult age groups, before rising again. It peaks at 134 at age 45, showing that far more males than females at this age are moving even though there are slightly more females than males in the overall population. At much older ages the internal migration sex ratio declines. This broadly matches the declining sex ratio in the general population but is even more pronounced: for every 100 females aged over 90 who move, only 33 males of that age do so.

Figure 1: Sex ratios of (i) the UK population and (ii) internal migrants (people moving between local authorities in England and Wales, or to or from the rest of the UK), year ending June 2013.

Figure 1:  Sex ratios of (i) the UK population and (ii) internal migrants (people moving between local authorities in England and Wales, or to or from the rest of the UK), year ending June 2013.
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Sex ratio= Number of males at age (x) / Number of females at age (x). The actual numbers of males and females are not shown in the chart but are available via the ‘Download chart’ link below.
  2. Age is age at mid-2013 (30 June) rather than date of move

Download chart

Note that although this chart is for the year ending June 2013, the pattern has remained fairly consistent over time when compared with the past five years’ figures.

What are the factors that contribute to the imbalanced moves between sexes across age groups?

More boys than girls in the population

There are a higher number of boys than girls in the population which would be expected to lead to a higher number of male moves for young children and teenagers. As Figure 1 highlights, there is a peak in this imbalance at age 14. Analysis of the detailed estimates dataset in the annual internal migration indicates that this is caused by a higher number of 14 year old boys moving to local authorities with a large boarding school population – for example, Windsor and Maidenhead, where Eton College is located.

Young males are less likely to interact with the NHS administrative systems

One way of measuring internal migration is to use Patient Register data to estimate total flow. The sex ratio of movers is lower than that of the general population between ages 15 to 33, with a low of 69 at age 25. One of the reasons could be that young men tend to be slower to re-register with a GP and are less likely to register at all in a particular location. This may be because females are more likely to contact GP services even when well for contraceptive purposes and/or because they have children. In addition armed forces moves, which are mostly young males, are excluded from the internal migration figures ( Smallwood and Lynch, ONS, 2010 (145.3 Kb Pdf) ).

Males are likely to stay at home with their parents longer than females

Research from ONS provides evidence to show that young men aged 20 to 34 were more likely than young women to live with their parents. This in turn would contribute to the greater number of female moves from ages 20 to 34, which could partly reflect the equivalent-aged females moving out of home (Young adults living with parents, ONS, 2013).

Also more females than males go on to higher education (HE), and often move away from the parental home to do so. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA, 2014, Table D), the total number of first degree undergraduates at HE institutions in the UK in 2012/13 was 1.1million; of these 55% were female and 45% were male.

More males move than females between ages 34 and 71

Between the ages of 34 and 71 the data show that more men move than women. One factor could be that men between ages 34 and 71 are more likely to be captured in GP registers than at younger ages, meaning any change of address is more likely to be picked up. In other words, compared with younger ages, fewer male moves are being missed.

Another reason for more male internal migrants at these ages may be related to work and/or the formation or breakdown of relationships. The Divorces in England and Wales release (ONS, 2014) showed that, in 2012, the number of divorces was highest among men and women aged 35 to 49. It may be more likely for men to move away from home after divorce; if so this would increase the sex ratio of movers at that age.

A slight rise in the sex ratio of internal migrants in the mid-60s age groups may be driven by men moving when they retire, but many of these may be accompanied by a slightly younger partner which would explain the slightly suppressed sex ratio in the early 60s age groups. (Ní Bhrolcháin, 2005. The age difference at marriage in England and Wales: a century of patterns and trends)

Sex ratio gradually declines from age 72 onwards

From age 72 onwards the sex ratio of movers declines continually, partly reflecting the fact that at older age groups there are more women than men in the population due to a lower life expectancy for men. According to (National Life Tables, 2011-2013 (ONS, 2014) life expectancy at birth is 79 years for males and 83 years for females in the UK. This disparity between male and female life expectancy is reflected in the fact that at ages over 90 there are just 39 men for every 100 women in the population as a whole.

Nevertheless, from age 78 onwards the internal migration sex ratio is lower than that of the population as a whole. This means that females are comparatively more likely than males of that age to move. One of the factors could be that there are more female widows due to a combination of greater female life expectancy and the typical age difference of partners. Single people at older ages may be more likely to move than couples for reasons such as moving into a smaller dwelling, moving to be closer to family or moving into a care home (Guide to downsizing for elderly).

Categories: Population, Migration, Migration within the UK
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.