Functional Regions for Policy: a Statistical ‘Toolbox’ Providing Evidence for Decisions between Alternative Geographies

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Title: Functional Regions for Policy: a Statistical ‘Toolbox’ Providing Evidence for Decisions between Alternative Geographies
Authors: Martínez Bernabeu, Lucas | Coombes, Mike | Casado-Díaz, José M.
Research Group/s: Territorio y Movilidad. Mercados de Trabajo y Vivienda
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Análisis Económico Aplicado | Universidad de Alicante. Instituto Interuniversitario de Economía Internacional
Keywords: Functional regions | Policy boundaries | Evaluation indicators | Spatial interaction | Commuting self-containment | Labour market areas
Knowledge Area: Economía Aplicada
Issue Date: 8-Nov-2019
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Citation: Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy. 2020, 13: 739-758. doi:10.1007/s12061-019-09326-2
Abstract: Labour market areas and other functional regions (FRs) are increasingly used within research and policy, but how FRs are best defined is an unresolved issue. This is important because the policy impacts, or the research results, will differ depending on the specific FR boundaries used. As a result of this sensitivity (termed the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem), quantitative metrics are needed so that differing sets of FR boundaries can be evaluated. To meet this need the paper firstly reviews the concept and use of labour market areas – the form of FRs most widely used in policy – to identify relevant criteria for evaluating any regionalisation comprising a set of FRs. Next a range of potential measurable indicators for each of the criteria is defined. These candidate indicators are then exemplified by applying them to a huge number of alternative sets of FRs. From this empirical evidence a short-list of preferred indicators is identified, creating a statistical ‘toolbox’ for evaluating sets of FRs. The paper ends by first sketching possible processes within which applying the indicators can help policy-makers with a decision over the appropriate set of FRs for a specific policy, before finally outlining some potential future research developments.
Sponsor: This paper reflects on work supported by EUROSTAT (specific contract num. 50405.2010.004-2011.325) which was undertaken by the authors with Colin Wymer (CURDS, Newcastle University). The research at IEI, University of Alicante, was also supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under grant CSO2017-86474-R (National R&D&i Plan, Spain) (MINECO/AEI/ERDF, EU).
ISSN: 1874-463X (Print) | 1874-4621 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s12061-019-09326-2
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Peer Review: si
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