Faculty involved in spatial and economic analysis study the spatial structure of settlements and its influence on the type and variation of socioeconomic activities. They specifically include space and place as an important factor in understanding social, economic and ecological processes. The aim is to examine how spatially separated activities interact and how this interaction varies with spatial attributes such as distance, configuration, adjacency and physical character. Spatial and economic analysis also encompasses the study of urban futures.


Faculty members involved in spatial and economic analysis study how the spatial structure of settlements influences the type of and variation in socioeconomic activities. These studies ask whether space and place affect urban social, economic, and ecological processes using basic geographic characteristics like distance, configuration, adjacency, and physical character. Planning interventions inherently involve spatially defined communities and neighborhoods and recognize that they have spillover effects on neighbors and beyond. For example, a foreclosed home affects all home prices in that neighborhood, and over time can trigger more foreclosures in that and adjacent neighborhoods. In contrast, a new and efficient transit system can raise property values around the system's access points in proportion to its accessibility. Spatial and economic analysis of such forms of interaction and spillover effects form the core of this focus area.

Spatial and economic analysis also encompasses the study of urban futures. Synoptic models are  used to simulate possible urban futures using computer-based analytical tools. Although the future scenarios are heuristic guides, they provide valuable information about broad trends and their impacts.  Indeed, several faculty members in this theme are involved in developing new computer-based tools to examine and measure spatial interaction at the GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation.

Examples of research under the spatial and economic theme include studies of transportation and land use connections, effects of transportation investments on property values, simulations of future residential and employment patterns, carbon footprints of neighborhoods in different locations, impact of  noxious facilities on  property values, agglomeration effects and spatial spillovers, and measurement of sprawl, compactness, and walkability.

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