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Location, location, location! Why space matters in demography and why we should care.

10 November 2014

Demographic phenomena are inherently spatial as human populations are not randomly located in space and settlement patterns are dependent on structural geographical attributes. In this context, spatial analysis focuses on the role of space in explaining the phenomenon under investigation, exemplified by Tobler’s First Law of Geography: “everything is related to everything else but near places are more related than far places” (Tobler, 1970).

The spatial dimension of demographic phenomena has proved to be of great importance in understanding the role of personal characteristics and the impact of the environment on such attributes. Nevertheless, most studies tend to ignore this spatial dependence. For instance, if we consider the level of total fertility rate (TFR), we can say that space matters if TFR is spatially autocorrelated, that is to say areas show some degree of dependency, with similar values for neighboring areas. This is an important point, since the presence of spatial autocorrelation may suggest the existence of unobserved variables not included in the model. []

By Alessandra Carioli

Read the full article here: DEMOTRENDS, November 6, 2014.

Source: DEMOTRENDS - Blog on demographic trends, research and resources

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