AbstractThe objective of this study is to provide an analytical framework that would make it possible to identify the factors that account for individual mobility as a function of the position in the life cycle and of the geographic – i.e. urban or rural – origin. We start with the hypothesis that migration decisions result from a complex calculus where the individual aims at satisfying certain needs (occupational and residential) in the face of certain constraints (financial, familial or educational) while taking into account the local levels of the supply of labour, housing, environment, availability of services, etc. Those needs and constraints differ at every stage of an individual’s life cycle. The probability of migration between 1982 and 1990 is estimated using a national sub-sample extracted from the French Permanent Demographic Sample (EDP). The results show that, among individuals aged 15 to 24 in 1982, occupational concerns have a significant effect on migration choice, especially among the young who were living in a rural area in 1982. Among 25-44 year-olds, family structure (including the birth of children) and the type of accommodation play a prominent role in accounting for migration, while the occupation seems less important. Among the older age groups (those who were aged 45 to 64 in 1982), retirement combined with changes in family structure (the empty nest stage) affects the probability of migration, particularly for individuals who were residing in an urban area at the beginning of the period.