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Geographically Referenced Data for Social Science


  • Peter Hintze
  • Tobia Lakes


An estimated 80% of all information has a spatial reference. Information about households as well as environmental data can be linked to precise locations in the real world. This offers benefits for combining different datasets via the spatial location and, furthermore, spatial indicators such as distance and accessibility can be included in analyses and models. HSpatial patterns of real-world social phenomena can be identified and described and possible interrelationships between datasets can be studied. Michael F. GOODCHILD, a Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara and principal investigator at the Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science (CSISS), summarizes the growing significance of space, spatiality, location, and place in social science research as follows: "(...) for many social scientists, location is just another attribute in a table and not a very important one at that. After all, the processes that lead to social deprivation, crime, or family dysfunction are more or less the same everywhere, and, in the minds of social scientists, many other variables, such as education, unemployment, or age, are far more interesting as explanatory factors of social phenomena than geographic location. Geographers have been almost alone among social scientists in their concern for space; to economists, sociologists, political scientists, demographers, and anthropologists, space has been a minor issue and one that these disciplines have often been happy to leave to geographers. But that situation is changing, and many social scientists have begun to talk about a "spatial turn," a new interest in location, and a new "spatial social science" that crosses the traditional boundaries between disciplines. Interest is rising in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and in what GIS makes possible: mapping, spatial analysis, and spatial modelling. At the same time, new tools are becoming available that give GIS users access to some of the big ideas of social science."

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  • Peter Hintze & Tobia Lakes, 2009. "Geographically Referenced Data for Social Science," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 125, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
  • Handle: RePEc:rsw:rswwps:rswwps125

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    Cited by:

    1. Dang, Rui, 2015. "Spillover effects of local human capital stock on adult obesity: Evidence from German neighborhoods," Ruhr Economic Papers 585, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.

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