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Neural Networks for Cross-Sectional Employment Forecasts: A Comparison of Model Specifications for Germany

  • Roberto Patuelli


    (Institute for Economic Research (IRE), University of Lugano, Switzerland; The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, Italy)

  • Aura Reggiani


    (Department of Economics, University of Bologna, Italy)

  • Peter Nijkamp


    (Department of Spatial Economics, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Norbert Schanne


    (Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg, Germany)

In this paper, we present a review of various computational experiments – and consequent results – concerning Neural Network (NN) models developed for regional employment forecasting. NNs are widely used in several fields because of their flexible specification structure. Their utilization in studying/predicting economic variables, such as employment or migration, is justified by the ability of NNs of learning from data, in other words, of finding functional relationships – by means of data – among the economic variables under analysis. A series of NN experiments is presented in the paper. Using two data sets on German NUTS 3 districts (326 and 113 labour market districts in the former West and East Germany, respectively), the results emerging from the implementation of various NN models – in order to forecast variations in full-time employment – are provided and discussed In our approach, single forecasts are computed by the models for each district. Different specifications of the NN models are first tested in terms of: (a) explanatory variables; and (b) NN structures. The average statistical results of simulated out-of-sample forecasts on different periods are summarized and commented on. In addition to variable and structure specification, the choice of NN learning parameters and internal functions is also critical to the success of NNs. Comprehensive testing of these parameters is, however, limited in the literature. A sensitivity analysis is therefore carried out and discussed, in order to evaluate different combinations of NN parameters. The paper concludes with methodological and empirical remarks, as well as with suggestions for future research.

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Paper provided by USI Università della Svizzera italiana in its series Quaderni della facoltà di Scienze economiche dell'Università di Lugano with number 0903.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lug:wpaper:0903
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  1. Roberto Patuelli & Simonetta Longhi & Aura Reggiani & Peter Nijkamp, 2005. "Forecasting Regional Employment in Germany by Means of Neural Networks and Genetic Algorithms," Computational Economics 0511002, EconWPA.
  2. Roberto Patuelli & Aura Reggiani & Peter Nijkamp & Uwe Blien, 2006. "New Neural Network Methods for Forecasting Regional Employment: an Analysis of German Labour Markets," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 7-30.
  3. Roberto Patuelli & Aura Reggiani & Peter Nijkamp, . "The Development of Regional Employment in Germany: Results from Neural Network Experiments," Regional and Urban Modeling 283600069, EcoMod.
  4. Roberto Patuelli & Daniel A. Griffith & Michael Tiefelsdorf & Peter Nijkamp, 2009. "Spatial Filtering and Eigenvector Stability: Space-Time Models for German Unemployment Data," Quaderni della facoltà di Scienze economiche dell'Università di Lugano 0902, USI Università della Svizzera italiana.
  5. Zhang, Guoqiang & Eddy Patuwo, B. & Y. Hu, Michael, 1998. "Forecasting with artificial neural networks:: The state of the art," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 35-62, March.
  6. Gorr, Wilpen L. & Nagin, Daniel & Szczypula, Janusz, 1994. "Comparative study of artificial neural network and statistical models for predicting student grade point averages," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 17-34, June.
  7. Suahasil Nazara & Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, 2004. "Spatial Structure and Taxonomy of Decomposition in Shift-Share Analysis," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 476-490.
  8. Kuan, Chung-Ming & Liu, Tung, 1995. "Forecasting Exchange Rates Using Feedforward and Recurrent Neural Networks," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 347-64, Oct.-Dec..
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