Computational Approaches for Urban Environments pp 123-147

Part of the Geotechnologies and the Environment book series (GEOTECH, volume 13) | Cite as

Simple Agents, Complex Emergent City: Agent-Based Modeling of Intraurban Migration



Intraurban migration—residential movement within a metropolitan area—defines the nature of urbanization. Housing location decision making is a complex process driven by the interactions between the housing market and home searchers. Researchers have paid much attention to the environmental, socioeconomic, cultural, and policy features of housing markets. In contrast, housing search has been relatively neglected due to challenges of theory, methodology, and data. This article addresses these challenges by presenting an agent-based model of intraurban migration featuring straightforward and empirically specified rules for housing search. This model is calibrated and validated against real-world housing vacancies and relocation origin–destination pairs extracted from parcel records for the Twin Cities of Minnesota, USA, for 2005–2007. Drawing on these unique data sidesteps a long-standing issue, the prohibitive costs of identifying, recording, and quantifying housing search activities for an entire metropolitan region. Conceptually, this model updates geographic theories of intraurban migration that focus on intervening opportunities and spatial bias. It also methodologically advances the agent-based modeling of urbanization with a high-resolution, empirically specified model that demonstrates how urban pattern emerges from simple rules and interactions. Overall, the model demonstrates that relatively straightforward housing search rules can simulate realistic patterns of intraurban migration.


Intraurban migration Agent-based modeling Housing search Housing locational decisions 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental StudiesUniversity of Illinois SpringfieldSpringfieldUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography, Environment and SocietyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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