Uncertainty in the Effects of the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem under Different Levels of Spatial Autocorrelation: A Simulation Study




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Taylor & Francis Ltd



The objective of this paper is to investigate uncertainties surrounding relationships between spatial autocorrelation (SA) and the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP) with an extensive simulation experiment. Especially, this paper aims to explore how differently the MAUP behaves for the level of SA focusing on how the initial level of SA at the finest spatial scale makes a significant difference to the MAUP effects on the sample statistics such as means, variances, and Moran coefficients (MCs). The simulation experiment utilizes a random spatial aggregation (RSA) procedure and adopts Moran spatial eigenvectors to simulate different SA levels. The main findings are as follows. First, there are no substantive MAUP effects for means. However, the initial level of SA plays a role for the zoning effect, especially when extreme positive SA is present. Second, there is a clear and strong scale effect for the variances. However, the initial SA level plays a non-negligible role in how this scale effect deploys. Third, the initial SA level plays a crucial role in the nature and extent of the MAUP effects on MCs. A regression analysis confirms that the initial SA level makes a substantial difference to the variability of the MAUP effects.


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Autocorrelation (Statistics)—, Computer science, Geography, Physical geography



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