Spatial Correlations in Panel Data

36 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by John C. Driscoll

John C. Driscoll

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Aart Kraay

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: December 1995


A correction for spatial correlation in panel data.

In many empirical applications involving combined time-series and cross-sectional data, the residuals from different cross-sectional units are likely to be correlated with one another. This is often the case in applications in macroeconomics and international economics where the cross-sectional units may be countries, states, or regions observed over time. Spatial correlations among such cross-sections may arise for a number of reasons, ranging from observed common shocks such as terms of trade or oil shocks, to unobserved contagion or neighborhood effects which propagate across countries in complex ways.

Driscoll and Kraay observe that the presence of such spatial correlations in residuals complicates standard inference procedures that combine time-series and cross-sectional data since these techniques typically require the assumption that the cross-sectional units are independent. When this assumption is violated, estimates of standard errors are inconsistent, and hence are not useful for inference. And standard corrections for spatial correlations will be valid only if spatial correlations are of particular restrictive forms.

Driscoll and Kraay propose a correction for spatial correlations that does not require strong assumptions concerning their form - and show that it is superior to a number of commonly used alternatives. This paper - a product of the Macroeconomics and Growth Division, Policy Research Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to study international macroeconomics.

Suggested Citation

Driscoll, John C. and Kraay, Aart, Spatial Correlations in Panel Data (December 1995). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 1553, Available at SSRN:

John C. Driscoll (Contact Author)

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

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Aart Kraay

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

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