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ASEC User Note: Replaced: Reason for Move Write-In Expansion

This user note has been replaced with a revised version that includes some updates and corrections. The revised version is accessible here.


In the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey, anyone who moved within the last year is asked for his or her main reason for moving. Movers were provided with a list of 19 common reasons, four of which are “other family reason,” “other job-related reason,” “other housing reason,” and “other reason.” These catch-all categories are purposely generic, which limits their analytical usefulness.

Before 2016, only movers who selected “other reason” were asked to provide their specific reason for move through a write-in response. Beginning with the 2016 ASEC, respondents who selected “other family reason,” “other job-related reason,” and “other housing reason” were also sent to the write-in screen for additional information. With this additional information, Census Bureau staff were able to learn why movers selected these catch-all categories and recode some of the reasons into more specific reasons.

Comparison Guidance:

Data users should be cautious when comparing 2016 reason for move estimates with reason for move estimates from earlier years, especially for  “other family reason,” “other job-related reason,” “other housing reason,” and “other reason.” The reason for move question and edit did not change; however, cases were able to be recoded from these categories into different reasons. For “other family,” “other job-related,” and “other housing,” this was not possible before the write-in expansion. For example, if a mover selected “other housing” and provided a write-in of “wanted cheaper housing,” then their response could be recoded to the “wanted cheaper housing” reason in 2016. Before 2016, the write-in information for movers who selected “other housing” was not collected, meaning the response would have remained in “other housing.” Additionally, after the expansion, reasons could be recoded into “other reasons,” another first for the survey.

            To demonstrate the difference between 2015 and 2016, Figure 1 shows percentages for these four reasons. All four are significantly different between 2015 and 2016. In fact, as expected, “other family,” “other job-related,” and “other housing” all showed significant decreases during this period. “Other reason” is the obvious outlier. Over 800 people used the “other reason” write-in in 2016, a substantial increase from the roughly 200 who selected it in 2015.

When analyzing Figure 1, it is important to keep in mind that year-to-year change may also be responsible for any significant differences.

Figure 1



For additional information on the write-in expansion or reason for move data in general, visit these resources:


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