IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

A gravity equation for commuting with an application to estimating regional border effects in Belgium


  • Damiaan Persyn
  • Wouter Torfs


This article derives a gravity equation for commuting and uses it to identify the effect of regional borders on commuting. We build on the seminal trade paper by Anderson and Van Wincoop (2003, Gravity with gravitas: a solution to the border puzzle. The American Economic Review, 93: 170–192) and highlight some interesting similarities between our model and Wilson’s doubly constrained gravity equation [Wilson, A. (2010) Entropy in urban and regional modelling: retrospect and prospect. Geographical analysis, 42: 364–394], a workhorse model from spatial interaction theory. The model is estimated by applying a negative binomial regression method on Belgian inter-municipal commuting data. We show that regional borders exert a sizeable residual deterrent effect on commuting, a finding with obvious implications for regional labour market integration. This border effect differs significantly between regions and depends on the direction in which the border is crossed.

Suggested Citation

  • Damiaan Persyn & Wouter Torfs, 2016. "A gravity equation for commuting with an application to estimating regional border effects in Belgium," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 155-175.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jecgeo:v:16:y:2016:i:1:p:155-175.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. J.W.A.M. Steegmans & Jonathan de Bruin, 2019. "Online housing search and gravity models," Working Papers 19-17, Utrecht School of Economics.
    2. Angela Parenti & Cristina Tealdi, 2017. "Does the abolition of border controls boost cross-border commuting? Evidence from Switzerland," Discussion Papers 2017/213, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
    3. Christodoulou, Aris & Christidis, Panayotis, 2020. "Bridges across borders: A clustering approach to support EU regional policy," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    4. Moises Lenyn Obaco Alvarez & Vicente Royuela & Xavier Vítores, 2016. "Computing functional urban areas using a hierarchical travel time approach," ERSA conference papers ersa16p238, European Regional Science Association.
    5. Roberta Capello & Andrea Caragliu & Ugo Fratesi, 2018. "Breaking Down the Border: Physical, Institutional and Cultural Obstacles," Economic Geography, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 94(5), pages 485-513, October.
    6. Jacint Balaguer & Jordi Ripollés, 2018. "Revisiting the importance of border effect in sub‐national regions. Evidence from a quasi‐experimental design," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 1113-1130, November.
    7. Daniel Kuehn, 2016. "Spillover Bias in Cross-Border Minimum Wage Studies: Evidence from a Gravity Model," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 441-459, December.
    8. Anna-Theresa Renner & Dieter Pennerstorfer, 2020. "Modeling inter-regional patient mobility: Does distance go far enough?," Economics working papers 2020-04, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    9. Sigbjørn Sødal, 2017. "A Gravity Approach to Constructing Regional Structures from Interregional Flow Data," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 23(4), pages 361-377, November.
    10. Willem Sas, 2017. "Can fiscal equalisation mitigate tax competition? Ad valorem and residence-based taxation in a federation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(5), pages 817-853, September.
    11. Bowen Chen & Changyan Wu & Xianjin Huang & Xuefeng Yang, 2020. "Examining the Relationship between Urban Land Expansion and Economic Linkage Using Coupling Analysis: A Case Study of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(3), pages 1-21, February.
    12. Balaguer, Jacint & Ripollés, Jordi, 2018. "Disentangling the importance of international border effects. Some evidence from Portugal–Spain based on diesel retailers," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 260-269.
    13. Parenti, Angela & Tealdi, Cristina, 2019. "Does the Implementation of the Schengen Agreement Boost Cross-Border Commuting? Evidence from Switzerland," IZA Discussion Papers 12754, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. A. N. Bochkarev, 2019. "Methodological Aspects of Studying Labor Commuting," Regional Research of Russia, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 173-180, April.
    15. Vandyck, Toon & Rutherford, Thomas F., 2018. "Regional labor markets, commuting, and the economic impact of road pricing," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 217-236.
    16. Çekyay, Bora & Kabak, Özgür & Ülengin, Füsun & Ulengin, Burç & Toktaş Palut, Peral & Özaydın, Özay, 2020. "A multi-commodity network flow and gravity model integration for analyzing impact of road transport quotas on international trade," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
    17. Aris Christodoulou & Panayotis Christidis, 2019. "Cross-border transport infrastructure in the EU," JRC Working Papers JRC113364, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:jecgeo:v:16:y:2016:i:1:p:155-175.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.