Table of Contents

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Economic Geography

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Economic Geography

Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series

Edited by Charlie Karlsson, Martin Andersson and Therese Norman

The main purpose of this Handbook is to provide overviews and assessments of the state-of-the-art regarding research methods, approaches and applications central to economic geography. The chapters are written by distinguished researchers from a variety of scholarly traditions and with a background in different academic disciplines including economics, economic, human and cultural geography, and economic history. The resulting handbook covers a broad spectrum of methodologies and approaches applicable in analyses pertaining to the geography of economic activities and economic outcomes.

Chapter 5: Analysis using geographic information systems

Paul A. Longley

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, geography, economic geography, research methods in geography, research methods, research methods in economics, research methods in geography, urban and regional studies, regional economics, research methods in urban and regional studies


This chapter discusses the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in economic geography. It begins with an overview of what geographic information is, and why a special type of system is required to analyse it. Next follows a preliminary review of the science of geographic problem solving, and the ways in which GIS can be used to understand not only the way the world looks (e.g. through measurement and representation of spatial location patterns), but also the ways in which the world works (e.g. as the outcome of spatial interaction and flows). Following a short overview of the components that make up a GIS, we then consider the ways in which GIS can be used to measure, monitor and evaluate economic systems that are becoming all-pervasive and increasingly sentient, and we assess some of the problems and pitfalls that may arise in the management of apparently ubiquitous geographic information. These issues are illustrated by taking the development of geodemographics – the analysis of people by where they live – as an important application area in economic geography. GIS provide a valuable applied problem-solving tool in a range of applications in economic geography, and bring economic issues into sharp focus alongside environmental, social and demographic issues.

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