Encyclopedia of Migration

Living Edition
| Editors: Reed Ueda

Place Utility

  • David López-Carr
  • Daniel Phillips
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6179-7_42-1


The concept of place utility was introduced in a pair of articles published in the mid-1960s by Princeton geographer Julian Wolpert. In the first (1965), he coined the term “place utility” to describe “the net composite of utilities which are derived from the individual’s integration at some position in space.” Based on past experiences, both positive and negative, the individual measures the utility of the place in which he/she presently resides. According to Wolpert, place utility is operationalized by migrants or potential migrants who assess the outstanding attributes of their current place of residence relative to those same aggregate characteristics of a potential place of migration destination. Traditionally, most migrants have little or no personal experience in the potential destination. They make a judgment based on information they hear or read about, rather than from personal experience. In sum, Wolpert theorized that people will base their migration decisions...


Migration Decision Current Place Locational Utility Potential Destination Livelihood Opportunity 
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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA