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Zip codes and spatial analysis: Problems and prospects

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  • Grubesic, Tony H.

Abstract

The use of zip codes for spatial, demographic, and socio-economic analysis is growing. As of August 2005, 193 articles were indexed by "zip code" in the Social Sciences Citation Index, while 386 were indexed in PubMed. All of these articles were published since 1989. While the treatment of zip codes as units of analysis varies widely in epidemiology, marketing, geography, and the socio-economic planning sciences, there are a number of common "errors" that could be avoided if analysts retained a better understanding of zip code characteristics. The purpose of this paper is to outline the problems and prospects of utilizing zip codes for spatial analysis. Issues associated with spatial contiguity, data aggregation, and boundary definitions are addressed. Results suggest that, although zip codes are not the most robust spatial units of analysis available, they retain a modest degree of utility for specialized applications. Recommendations for future research regarding zip codes and their use in socio-economic applications are offered.

Suggested Citation

  • Grubesic, Tony H., 2008. "Zip codes and spatial analysis: Problems and prospects," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 129-149, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceps:v:42:y:2008:i:2:p:129-149
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:7:1100-1102_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Tony H Grubesic & Mark W Horner, 2006. "Deconstructing the divide: extending broadband xDSL services to the periphery," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 33(5), pages 685-704, September.
    3. Simon, Stephen D. & Lesage, James P., 1989. "Assessing the accuracy of ANOVA calculations in statistical software," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 325-332, November.
    4. Kumar, V. & Karande, Kiran, 2000. "The Effect of Retail Store Environment on Retailer Performance," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 167-181, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chevalier, Philippe & Thomas, Isabelle & Geraets, David & Goetghebeur, Els & Janssens, Olivier & Peeters, Dominique & Plastria, Frank, 2012. "Locating fire stations: An integrated approach for Belgium," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 173-182.
    2. Mack, Elizabeth A. & Grubesic, Tony H., 2009. "Forecasting broadband provision," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 297-311, November.
    3. repec:asg:wpaper:1025 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:asg:wpaper:1019 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Tobias Scholl & Antonios Garas & Frank Schweitzer, 2015. "The spatial component of R&D networks," Papers 1509.08291, arXiv.org.
    6. Mack, Elizabeth A. & Rey, Sergio J., 2014. "An econometric approach for evaluating the linkages between broadband and knowledge intensive firms," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 105-118.
    7. Elizabeth A. Mack & Luc Anselin & Tony H. Grubesic, 2011. "The importance of broadband provision to knowledge intensive firm location," Regional Science Policy & Practice, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(1), pages 17-35, March.
    8. Elizabeth A. Mack, 2014. "Broadband and knowledge intensive firm clusters: Essential link or auxiliary connection?," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(1), pages 3-29, March.
    9. Connolly Michelle & Prieger James E., 2013. "A Basic Analysis of Entry and Exit in the US Broadband Market, 2005–2008," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(3), pages 229-270, September.

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