An economic model of ethnic maps and the endogenous unit area problem
29 Pages Posted: 2 May 2022 Last revised: 13 Oct 2022
Date Written: May 25, 2022
In this paper, I create a spatial economic model of ethnic groups and explore how endogenous unit areas affect statistical inference. I estimate several competing models of Murdock's' map of African ethnic groups, used widely in applied economic studies, and do not reject the hypothesis that the map is endogenously determined. I also find that Murdock's map generates more spurious spatial correlations than completely random maps, which in turn generates more spurious spatial correlations than equal area geocells.
Keywords: economic tesselation, endogenous unit area, spurious spatial correlation
JEL Classification: C51, C52, C59
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