An Intervening Opportunities Model of U.S. Interstate Migration Flows

  • Siaw Akwawua University of Regina
  • James A. Pooler University of Saskatchewan
Keywords: Intervening Opportunities, Migration Flows, Spatial Interaction, Gravity Model, Spatial Choice, Distance, Decision-Makers


Unlike other constrained, spatial interaction models the intervening opportunities (IO) model is not often employed for migration analysis. In this paper, an attempt is made to perform an empirical examination of the 10 model, using migration data for the 48 conterminous states of the U.S. including the District of Columbia for the period 1975-1980. Ruiter's (1967) numerical method for estimating the basic parameter of the model, the L value, is employed and a program is developed to effect the iterative calibration procedure. Empirical results demonstrate that the model provides a reasonable distribution of observed U.S. migrations and compares favorably with the production constrained gravity model. Further applications of the model and some areas of research are suggested


Batty, M. and Mackie, S. (1972) The calibration of gravity, entropy, and related models of spatial interaction. Environment and Planning A, 4:205-203.

Baxter, M. (1976) Computer and Statistical Techniques for Planners. London: Methuen.

Baxter, M. (1983) Model misspecification and spatial structure in spatial-interaction models. Environmental and Planning A, 15 :319-327.

Bright, M.L. and Thomas, D.S. (1941) Interstate migration and intervening opportunities. American Sociological Review, 6:773-783.

CATS (Chicago Area Transportation Study) (1960) Final Report II.

Evans, A.W. (1971) The calibration of trip distribution models with exponential or similar cost functions. Transportation Research, 5: 15-38.

Fik, T.J. and Mulligan, G.P. (1990) Spatial flows and competing central places: Towards a general theory of hierarchical interaction. Environmental and Planning A, 22:527-549.

Fotheringham, A.S. (1988) Consumer store choice and choice set definition. Marketing Science, 7:299-310.

Harris, B. (1964) A note on the probability of interaction at a distance. Journal of Regional Science, 5 :31-35.

Hutchenson, K. (1970) A test for comparing diversities based on the Shannon formula. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 29:151-154.

Haynes, K.E. and Fotheringham, A.S. (1984) Gravity and Spatial Interaction Models. Beverly Hills: Sage.

Haynes, K.E., Machunda, Z.B. (1988) Decomposition of change in spatial employment concentration: An information-theoretic extension of shift-share analysis. Papers of the Regional Science Association, 65: 101-113.

Haynes, K.E., Poston, D.L. and Schnirring, P. (1973) Intermetropolitan migration in high and low opportunity areas: Indirect tests of the distance and intervening opportunities hypothesis. Economic Geography, 49:68-73.

Heanue, K.E. and Pyers, C.E. (1966) A comparative evaluation of trip distribution procedures. Highway Research Record, 114:20-50.

Isbell, E.C. (1944) Internal migration in Sweden and intervening opportunities. American Sociological Review, 9:627-639.

Jayet, R. (1990) Spatial search processes and spatial interaction: 1. Sequential search, intervening opportunities, and spatial search equilibrium. Environmental and Planning A, 22:583-599.

Jarema, P.E., Pyers, C.E., and Reed J.A. (1967) Evaluation of trip distribution and calibration procedures. Highway Research Record, 191: 106-129.

Knudsen, D.C. and Fotheringham, A.S. (1986) Matrix comparison, goodness-of-fit and spatial interaction modeling, International Regional Science Review, 10:127-147.

Miller, E. (1972) A note on the role of distance in migration: Costs of mobility versus intervening opportunities. Journal of Regional Science, 12:475-478.

Openshaw, S. (1976) An empirical study of spatial interaction models. Environment and Planning A, 8:23-41.

PATS (Pittsburgh Area Transportation Study) (1963) Final Report II.

Pooler, J.A. (1992) Spatial uncertainty and spatial dominance in interaction modeling: A theoretical perspective on spatial competition. Environment and Planning A, 24:995-1008.

Pooler, J.A. (1998) Competition among destinations in spatial interaction models: A new point of view. Chinese Geographical Science, 8 :2112-224.

Pyers, C.E. (1965) Evaluation of intervening opportunities trip distribution model. Highway Research Record, 114:71-98.

Rogerson, P.A. (1986) Parameter estimation in the intervening opportunities model. Geographical Analysis, 18:357-360.

Roy, J.R. (1993) Comments on 'The development of a new gravity-opportunity model for trip distribution'. Environment and Planning A, 25:1689-1691.

Ruiter, E.R. (1967) Improvements in understanding, calibrating, and applying the opportunity model. Highway Research Record, 165: 1-21.

Schneider, M. (1959) Panel discussion on inter-area travel formulas. Highway Research Record, 253: 128-138.

Shannon, C.E. (1948) A mathematical theory of communication. Bell Systems TechnicalJournal, 27:379-423 and 623-656.

Sheppard, E. (1986) Modeling and Predicting aggregate flows. In Hanson, S. (ed.) The Geography of Urban Transportation. New York: The Guilford Press, pp.91-118.

Slodczyk, J. (1990) Spatial structure of migrations from the standpoint of the model of intervening opportunities. In Zipseer, T. (ed.) The Model of Intervening Opportunities in Theory and Practice of Territorial Arrangement. Scientific papers of the Institute of History of Architecture, Arts and Technology. Wroclaw: Technical University of Wroclaw, Wydawnictwo Politechniki Wroclawskiej,21:143-153.

Smith, D.P., and Hutchinson, B.C. (1981) Goodness-of-fit statistics for trip distribution models. Transportation Research, 15A:295-303.

Stillwell, J. (1991) Spatial interaction models and the propensity to migrate over distance. In Stillwell, J. and Congdon, P. (eds.) Migration Models: Macro and Micro Approaches, London: Ballhaven Press, pp. 34-56.

Stouffer, S. A. (1940) Intervening opportunities: A theory relating mobility and distance. American Sociological Review, 5 :845-867.

Stouffer, S. A. (1960) Intervening opportunities and competing migrants. Journal of Regional Science, 2: 1-26.

U.S. Bureau of the Census (1983) Census of Population Supplementary Report PC80- 51-9. State of Residence in 1975 by State of Residence in 1980. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

Wills, M.J. (1986) A flexible gravity-opportunity model for trip distribution. Transportation Research, 29 B: 89-111.

Wilson, A.G. (1967) A statistical theory of spatial distribution models. Transportation Research, 1:253-269.

Wilson, A.G. (1970) Entropy in Urban and Regional Modeling. London: Pion

Wilson, A.G. (1974) Urban and Regional Models in Geography and Planning. New York: John Wiley.

Wilson, A.G. (1976) Statistical notes on the evaluation of calibrated gravity models. Transportation Research, 10: 343-345.

Wilson, A.G. and Bennett, R.J. (1985) Mathematical Methods in Human Geography and Planning. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.