Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Fernando Riosmena

Second Advisor

Brian O’Neill Date

Third Advisor

Seth Spielman

Fourth Advisor

Nicholas Nagle

Fifth Advisor

Jason Boardman


Spatially explicit projections of global population are of growing importance in the large-scale scenario-based assessment of, for example, the spatial distribution of land use, demand for food and water, energy usage, and emissions. In this research we present a method for producing large-scale, plausible spatial population scenarios. We begin with the assessment of one of the most sophisticated existing methodologies developed at IIASA and oriented around the gravity-based population potential model. We then propose and test significant modifications to the procedure, and apply the modified approach in a test against historical United States data. We conclude by producing a small set of 100-year spatial scenarios for the continental United Stated based on the SRES A2 storyline. We find that the IIASA methodology is subject to border effects, can produce limited patterns of spatial change, and is limited in its capacity to classify and appropriately model urban and rural patterns of change. Through the course of our work we propose modifications to address these and other problems. The unique contributions of this research include a method for calibrating the model to historical data to capture and replicate observed patterns of spatial population change and a method for removing boundary effects from a gravity-based spatial-allocation model with moving windows.

Included in

Geography Commons