, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 1105–1128

New Approaches to Human Mobility: Using Mobile Phones for Demographic Research


    • Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Office of Population ResearchPrinceton University
  • Thomas J. Espenshade
    • Office of Population Research and Department of SociologyPrinceton University
  • Frederic Bartumeus
    • Center for Advanced Studies of BlanesCEAB-CSIC
  • Chang Y. Chung
    • Office of Population ResearchPrinceton University
  • Necati Ercan Ozgencil
    • Syncsort
  • Kathleen Li
    • Google

DOI: 10.1007/s13524-012-0175-z

Cite this article as:
Palmer, J.R.B., Espenshade, T.J., Bartumeus, F. et al. Demography (2013) 50: 1105. doi:10.1007/s13524-012-0175-z


This article explores new methods for gathering and analyzing spatially rich demographic data using mobile phones. It describes a pilot study (the Human Mobility Project) in which volunteers around the world were successfully recruited to share GPS and cellular tower information on their trajectories and respond to dynamic, location-based surveys using an open-source Android application. The pilot study illustrates the great potential of mobile phone methodology for moving spatial measures beyond residential census units and investigating a range of important social phenomena, including the heterogeneity of activity spaces, the dynamic nature of spatial segregation, and the contextual dependence of subjective well-being.


Spatial demographyActivity spaceSegregationSubjective well-beingEcological momentary assessment

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2012