A Brief History of Spatial Analysis

March 3, 2011, Department of Statistics, University of Illinois

Anil Bera

“Spatial econometrics which is essentially concerned with statistical techniques to take account of economic interactions among agents located on space is relatively a new field of research. However, spatial analysis in general, has a long history. In the statistics literature, R.A. Fisher was probably the first to recognize the implications of spatial dependence. While discussing the shapes of blocks and plots in agricultural experiments, he commented, After choosing the area we usually have no guidance beyond the widely verified fact that patches in close proximity are commonly more alike, as judged by the yield of crops, than those which are further apart, see Fisher (1937, pp.73-74). Even after so many years, the basic tenet of spatial dependence has not changed much from Fishers characterization. In the current statistics and econometrics literature, spatial dependence is also loosely defined as the coincidence of value similarity with location similarity. Every beginning, however, has its own beginning. I will start at the very beginning, and discuss the disconnected developments in spatial analysis during the last century. Then I will move to spatial econometrics, and mention some key developments. Finally, I will try to cover some of my joint work with students/colleagues on specification tests for spatial models.”