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Journal Article

Evaluation and extension of the radiation model for internal migration


Kluge,  Lucas
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Schewe,  Jacob
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Kluge, L., Schewe, J. (2021): Evaluation and extension of the radiation model for internal migration. - Physical Review E, 104, 5, 054311.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_26331
Human migration is often studied using gravity models. These models, however, have known limitations, including analytic inconsistencies and a dependence on empirical data to calibrate multiple parameters for the region of interest. Overcoming these limitations, the radiation model has been proposed as an alternative, universal approach to predicting different forms of human mobility, but has not been adopted for studying migration. Here we show, using data on within-country migration from the USA and Mexico, that the radiation model systematically underpredicts long-range moves, while the traditional gravity model performs well for large distances. The universal opportunity model, an extension of the radiation model, shows an improved fit of long-range moves compared to the original radiation model, but at the cost of introducing two additional parameters. We propose a more parsimonious extension of the radiation model that introduces a single parameter. We demonstrate that it fits the data over the full distance spectrum and also—unlike the universal opportunity model—preserves the analytical property of the original radiation model of being equivalent to a gravity model in the limit of a uniform population distribution.