Despite ongoing debates on urban resurgence and suggestions that cities have become more popular as a location to raise children, empirical evidence on the extent to which families with children tend to stay in cities is scarce. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap by analysing intentions to move and the actual mobility behaviour of young families in the Netherlands. First, and based on administrative data from Statistics Netherlands (2008–2016), it provides a detailed geographical analysis of couples' actual moving behaviour around the life event of first childbirth in a wide array of settlement types. Results demonstrate that the transition to parenthood still triggers couples to move down the urban hierarchy: urban couples, especially those in high‐density neighbourhoods, tend to leave the city, whereas couples in smaller municipalities outside the city tend to adjust their housing situation by local moves. However, lower density neighbourhoods in inner cities are relatively successful in retaining couples around family formation. Second, and based on the Netherlands' Housing Survey linked to administrative data, this paper examines geographical variations in families' stated intentions to move and analyses the likelihood that these moving intentions are realised. Results suggest that patterns of family migration cannot merely be interpreted as revealed preferences for suburban or rural environments. Whereas urban families are more likely than non‐urban families to have intentions to leave, they are also most likely to intend to move within their settlement. However, Amsterdam families in particular are unlikely to fulfil their intentions to make a local move, probably because of housing market constraints.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.