Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Review of the gravity model: a physical approach to social sciences

Capoani Luigi Capoani, Università di Salerno

This article presents a bibliographic review of the gravitational model in sociophysics since its origins in Newton’s conception. Considering the crucial role played by physics in expanding our understanding about social sciences, I will preserve such an approach throughout the article. Firstly, I will introduce its theoretical roots with an overview of the physical models by the most prominent scholars up to the recent applications in migration and economics. Secondly, I will illustrate the analogies and differences between the gravitational model and Tobler’s first law of geography. Thus, this work results in a sound comparison between a simple spatial framework in three variables, the most notable of which is distance, and a structured scheme based on the gravity metaphor which relies on the concepts of attractions’ forces and spatial concentration. Thirdly, I will propose an assessment of the most recent application to intangible goods as in the fields of marketing and services.


Keywords: gravity model, demography, migration, sociophysics, economic geography, social sciences

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