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The gravity model of migration: the successful comeback of an ageing superstar in regional science

Author

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  • Poot, Jacques

    (University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)

  • Alimi, Omoniyi

    (University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)

  • Cameron, Michael P.

    (University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)

  • Maré, David C.

    (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, Wellington, New Zealand)

Abstract

For at least half a century, and building on observations first made a century earlier, the gravity model has been the most commonly-used paradigm for understanding gross migration flows between regions. This model owes its success to, firstly, its intuitive consistency with migration theories; secondly, ease of estimation in its simplest form; and, thirdly, goodness of fit in most applications. While fitting gravity models of aggregate migration flows started taking backstage to microdata analysis in the 1980s, a recent comeback has resulted from increasing applications to international migration and from the emergence of statistical theories appropriate for studying spatial interaction. In this paper we review the status quo and argue for greater integration of internal and international migration modelling. Additionally we revisit the issues of parameter stability and distance deterrence measurement by means of a New Zealand case study. We argue that gravity modelling of migration has a promising future in a multi-regional stochastic population projection system —an area in which the model has been to date surprisingly underutilised. We conclude with outlining current challenges and opportunities in this field.

Suggested Citation

  • Poot, Jacques & Alimi, Omoniyi & Cameron, Michael P. & Maré, David C., 2016. "The gravity model of migration: the successful comeback of an ageing superstar in regional science," INVESTIGACIONES REGIONALES - Journal of REGIONAL RESEARCH, Asociación Española de Ciencia Regional, issue 36, pages 63-86.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:invreg:0326
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ngoc Thi Minh Tran & Michael P. Cameron & Jacques Poot, 2017. "Local Institutional Quality and Return Migration: Evidence from Vietnam," Working Papers in Economics 17/10, University of Waikato.
    2. Michael P. Cameron, 2017. "Climate Change, Internal Migration and the Future Spatial Distribution of Population: A Case Study of New Zealand," Working Papers in Economics 17/03, University of Waikato.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gravity model; migration flows; spatial interaction; parameter stability; distance deterrence measurement;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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