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Exponential or Power Distance-decay for Commuting? An Alternative Specification


  • Jacob J. de Vries

    () (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • Peter Nijkamp

    () (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • Piet Rietveld

    () (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


In this paper we determine the effect of transport cost on commuting flows, on the basis of an analysis of home-to-work journeys between municipalities in Denmark. Special attention is given to a proper estimation method and the form of the distance-decay function. It appears that neither an exponential nor a power distance-decay function fits the data well. The specification of log trips as a (downwards) logistic function of log cost results in a better fit. We find that the cost elasticity of commuting reaches a value of –4 for distances around 24 km, while it is close to 0 for both very short and very long distances. Finally, we demonstrate that the choice of functional form for distance-decay can make an important difference for predictions concerning the effect of infrastructure improvements on commuting flows.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob J. de Vries & Peter Nijkamp & Piet Rietveld, 2004. "Exponential or Power Distance-decay for Commuting? An Alternative Specification," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-097/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20040097

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    Spatial Interaction; Distance-decay Function; Commuting; Denmark; Estimation; Heteroscedasticity;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R15 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Econometric and Input-Output Models; Other Methods
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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