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Delineating functional territories from outer space

Julio Berdegue (), Tatiana Hiller (), Juan Ramírez (), Santiago Satizábal (), Isidro Soloaga (), Juan Soto Díaz (), Miguel Uribe () and Olga Vargas ()
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Tatiana Hiller: University of the Andes
Santiago Satizábal: Latin American Center for Rural Development (RIMISP)
Miguel Uribe: Universidad Iberoamericana
Olga Vargas: Latin American Center for Rural Development (RIMISP), Associate Researcher Fondecyt

Latin American Economic Review, 2019, vol. 28, issue 1, 1-24

Abstract: Abstract The delimitation of functional spatial units or functional territories is an important topic in regional science and economic geography, since the empirical verification of many causal relationships is affected by the size and shape of these areas. This paper proposes a two-step method for the delimitation of functional territories and presents an application for three developing countries: Mexico, Colombia and Chile. The first step of this method uses nighttime satellite images to identify the boundaries of urban continuums (conurbations). When these continuums extend over more than one municipality, we group and redefine them as a new single spatial unit. The second step calculates a dissimilarity index using bidirectional labor-commuting flows between the resulting areas of the first step and then applies a standard clustering procedure to delineate the definitive functional territories. Our results suggest that, using nighttime satellite images, our method can lead to a more accurate definition of functional territories, especially in developing or underdeveloped countries where the official data on labor-commuting flows are often outdated or unreliable.

Keywords: Functional territories; Functional economic areas; Local labor market areas; Night light satellite data; Commuting flows (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: R1 R12 R23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: Delineating Functional Territories From Outer Space (2017) Downloads
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Handle: RePEc:spr:laecrv:v:28:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1186_s40503-019-0066-4