Anticipating Employment Location Patterns in Economic Regions: Modeling Complex Dynamics

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Applied Network Science

Research Center

Northern Ohio Data and Information Service (NODIS)


Complex social-ecological systems—such as cities and regions—change in time whether or not we intervene through plans and policies. This is due in part to the numerous individual and organizational actors who make self-interested, unilateral decisions. Public decision makers are expected to act in the public interest and are accountable to constituents. They need the ability to explore alternatives, select ones that are likely to benefit the public, and avoid or mitigate negative outcomes. Predicting processes and outcomes in the context of complex systems is risky, however, and mistakes can be costly. Switching from prediction of specific future states to anticipation of possible ranges of futures may help contend with the uncertainties inherent in these systems. We propose here a dynamic network model for generating ranges of possible futures for employment location in an economic region. The model can be used to anticipate employment location effects of various policies. First, using historical (2002–2015) number and location of jobs in two rather different metropolitan areas, we calibrate the model for each and validate it against actual data. Having found that the model performs well, we show how policy makers can use it to ask what-if questions regarding proposed policies to either attract businesses to specific locations or discourage them from locating in parts of the region.

Original Citation

Kaufman, S., Kaufman, M. & Salling, M. Anticipating employment location patterns in economic regions: modeling complex dynamics. Appl Netw Sci 4, 103 (2019) doi:10.1007/s41109-019-0208-2