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Novel methods for the estimation of cost–distance decay in potential accessibility models

In: Accessibility and Spatial Interaction


  • John Östh
  • Aura Reggiani
  • Giacomo Galiazzo


In much accessibility research, arbitrary estimates of the distance sensitivity parameters have been used to represent the distance decay parameters in potential accessibility models. These estimates might be considered arbitrary since the choice of value and the choice of the distance decay function is often motivated by statistical indicators of the goodness of fit on spatial flows, given the fact that measures of ‘real’ accessibilities are missing. Starting from these considerations, in this chapter we introduce a new approach, the half-life model originating from the natural sciences, to estimate distance decay parameters. This method is compared with two conventional approaches originating from spatial economic science for the computation of distance decay parameters: the unconstrained and the doubly constrained spatial interaction models. The emerging distance decay parameters will be then considered in the construction of accessibility indicators based on the potential accessibility introduced by Hansen in 1959. In this context, both the mean and the median distance will be taken into account in order to identify MAUP-related issues. The exploration of these three approaches focuses on empirical analyses of accessibility in Sweden at the municipal level for 1993 and 2008. All the emerging accessibility indicators are compared in order to analyse similarities and differences in the hierarchical accessibility levels of the Swedish municipalities. The chapter concludes with some methodological and empirical remarks on the adoption of these three approaches, in the light of possible forecasts and related policy analyses.

Suggested Citation

  • John Östh & Aura Reggiani & Giacomo Galiazzo, 2014. "Novel methods for the estimation of cost–distance decay in potential accessibility models," Chapters, in: Ana Condeço-Melhorado & Aura Reggiani & Javier Gutiérrez (ed.), Accessibility and Spatial Interaction, chapter 2, pages 15-37, Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:elg:eechap:15267_2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Östh & Urban Lindgren, 2012. "Do Changes In Gdp Influence Commuting Distances? A Study Of Swedish Commuting Patterns Between 1990 And 2006," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 103(4), pages 443-456, September.
    2. Jacob J de Vries & Peter Nijkamp & Piet Rietveld, 2009. "Exponential or Power Distance-Decay for Commuting? An Alternative Specification," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 41(2), pages 461-480, February.
    3. A S Fotheringham & D W S Wong, 1991. "The Modifiable Areal Unit Problem in Multivariate Statistical Analysis," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 23(7), pages 1025-1044, July.
    4. Nijkamp, Peter, 1975. "Reflections on gravity and entropy models," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 203-225, May.
    5. Jasper Willigers & Han Floor & Bert van Wee, 2007. "Accessibility indicators for location choices of offices: an application to the intraregional distributive effects of high-speed rail in the Netherlands," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 39(9), pages 2086-2098, September.
    6. A S Fotheringham & D W S Wong, 1991. "The modifiable areal unit problem in multivariate statistical analysis," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 23(7), pages 1025-1044, July.
    7. S L Handy & D A Niemeier, 1997. "Measuring accessibility: an exploration of issues and alternatives," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 29(7), pages 1175-1194, July.
    8. S L Handy & D A Niemeier, 1997. "Measuring Accessibility: An Exploration of Issues and Alternatives," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 29(7), pages 1175-1194, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stępniak, Marcin & Jacobs-Crisioni, Chris, 2017. "Reducing the uncertainty induced by spatial aggregation in accessibility and spatial interaction applications," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 17-29.
    2. Rokicki, Bartlomiej & Stępniak, Marcin, 2018. "Major transport infrastructure investment and regional economic development – An accessibility-based approach," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 36-49.


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