What Do Street Names Tell Us? The 'City-Text' as Socio-Cultural Data

Journal of Economic Geography, Forthcoming

28 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2016 Last revised: 15 Aug 2017

Date Written: September 8, 2016


This paper shows that street names provide a very valuable source of information for quantitative empirical analysis in social sciences. They reflect the cumulative commemorative decisions of municipalities and, as such, can be used as proxies for their historical and cultural characteristics, which is particularly useful given the scarcity of cultural data at the local level. The use of street names as a data source is illustrated through the construction of an indicator of religiosity, which enables us to discuss theoretical and methodological issues, as well as show that the indicator is strongly correlated with the cultural factor it is supposed to capture. Finally, the article explores a range of potential empirical applications to important topics in social sciences.

Keywords: Street names, city-text, quantitative empirical analysis, culture, religiosity, local-level analysis

JEL Classification: O18, R19, Z12, Z13

Suggested Citation

Oto‐Peralias, Daniel, What Do Street Names Tell Us? The 'City-Text' as Socio-Cultural Data (September 8, 2016). Journal of Economic Geography, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2836515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2836515

Daniel Oto‐Peralias (Contact Author)

Universidad Pablo de Olavide


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