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Dots to Boxes: Do the Size and Shape of Spatial Units Jeopardize Economic Geography Estimations?

  • Briant, Anthony
  • Combes, Pierre-Philippe
  • Lafourcade, Miren

This paper evaluates, in the context of economic geography estimates, the magnitude of the distortions arising from the choice of zoning system, which is also known as the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP). We consider three standard economic geography exercises (the analysis of spatial concentration, agglomeration economies, and trade determinants), using various French zoning systems differentiated according to the size and shape of spatial units, which are the two main determinants of the MAUP. While size matters a little, shape does so much less. Both dimensions seem to be of secondary importance compared to specification issues.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6928.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6928
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  1. A S Fotheringham & D W S Wong, 1991. "The Modifiable Areal Unit Problem in Multivariate Statistical Analysis," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 23(7), pages 1025-1044, July.
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  11. Carlo Menon, 2008. "The Bright Side of MAUP: an Enquiry on the Determinants of Industrial Agglomeration in the United States," Working Papers 2008_29, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  12. James E. Rauch, 2001. "Business and Social Networks in International Trade," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1177-1203, December.
  13. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent, 2008. "Spatial wage disparities: Sorting matters!," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 723-742, March.
  14. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Miren Lafourcade & Thierry Mayer, 2005. "The Trade Creating Effects of Business and Social Networks: Evidence from France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00268768, HAL.
  15. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  16. A S Fotheringham & D W S Wong, 1991. "The modifiable areal unit problem in multivariate statistical analysis," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 23(7), pages 1025-1044, July.
  17. 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.
  18. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & Sébastien Roux, 2006. "Wages, Mobility and Firm Performance: Advantages and Insights from Using Matched Worker-Firm Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(512), pages F245-F285, 06.
  19. Wagner, Don & Head, Keith & Ries, John, 2002. "Immigration and the Trade of Provinces," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 507-25, December.
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