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Searching for the elusive aggregation effect: evidence from statistical simulations


  • C G Amrhein


The past few years have seen a resurging interest in the modifiable areal unit problem, or aggregation effects. The new evidence, however, both supports and conflicts with previous work. This paper represents the first stage in a series of numerical experiments designed to explore the nature and extent of scale and zonation effects. Results from a series of carefully controlled statistical simulations are reported. It is concluded that there definitely are aggregation effects separate from effects that can be attributed to changing the definition of the spatial process. These effects, however, vary with the statistic calculated. Means and variances are resistant to aggregation effects, whereas regression coefficients and correlation statistics exhibit dramatic effects. In summary, the world of spatial analysis as it relates to the modifiable areal unit problem is not entirely well-behaved, but neither is it completely random and ill-defined.

Suggested Citation

  • C G Amrhein, 1995. "Searching for the elusive aggregation effect: evidence from statistical simulations," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 27(1), pages 105-119, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:27:y:1995:i:1:p:105-119

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Burger, M.J. & van Oort, F.G. & van der Knaap, G.A., 2008. "A Treatise on the Geographical Scale of Agglomeration Externalities and the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2008-076-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    2. Briant, A. & Combes, P.-P. & Lafourcade, M., 2010. "Dots to boxes: Do the size and shape of spatial units jeopardize economic geography estimations?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 287-302, May.
    3. repec:spr:anresc:v:60:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s00168-017-0849-y is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Vassilis Tselios, 2007. "Mapping the European regional educational distribution: Educational attainment and inequality," Working Papers 2007-18, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
    5. Bala, Alain Pholo & Peeters, Dominique & Thomas, Isabelle, 2014. "Spatial issues on a hedonic estimation of rents in Brussels," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 104-123.
    6. Josep-Maria Arauzo-Carod & Miguel Manjón-Antolín, 2012. "(Optimal) spatial aggregation in the determinants of industrial location," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 645-658, October.
    7. Lee, Harry F. & Fei, Jie & Chan, Christopher Y.S. & Pei, Qing & Jia, Xin & Yue, Ricci P.H., 2017. "Climate change and epidemics in Chinese history: A multi-scalar analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 53-63.
    8. Portnov, Boris A. & Felsenstein, Daniel, 2010. "On the suitability of income inequality measures for regional analysis: Some evidence from simulation analysis and bootstrapping tests," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 212-219, December.
    9. Tamás Dusek, 2005. "The modifiable areal unit problem in regional economics," ERSA conference papers ersa05p357, European Regional Science Association.
    10. Gong, Chengzhu & Yu, Shiwei & Zhu, Kejun & Hailu, Atakelty, 2016. "Evaluating the influence of increasing block tariffs in residential gas sector using agent-based computational economics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 334-347.
    11. Prodromos-Ioannis Prodromidis, 2006. "Functional Economies Or Administrative Units in Greece: What Difference Does It Make for Policy?," ERSA conference papers ersa06p358, European Regional Science Association.
    12. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00349294 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Prodromídis, Pródromos-Ioánnis K., 2012. "Modeling male and female employment policy in Greece from local data," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 823-839.
    14. Vemuri, Amanda W. & Costanza, Robert, 2006. "The role of human, social, built, and natural capital in explaining life satisfaction at the country level: Toward a National Well-Being Index (NWI)," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 119-133, June.

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