Original Article

Journal of Geographical Systems

, 10:167

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

A spatiotemporal analysis of aggregate labour force behaviour by sex and age across the European Union

  • J. Paul ElhorstAffiliated withFaculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen Email author 


This study investigates the causes of variation in age-specific male and female labour force participation rates using annual data from 154 regions across ten European Union member states for the period 1983–1997. Regional participation rates appear to be strongly correlated in time, weakly correlated in space and to parallel their national counterparts. An econometric model is designed consistent with these empirical findings. To control for potential endogeneity of the explanatory variables, we use an instrumental variables estimation scheme based on a matrix exponential spatial specification of the error terms. Many empirical studies of aggregate labour force behaviour have ignored population distribution effects, relying instead on the representative-agent paradigm. In order for representative-agent models to accurately describe aggregate behaviour, all marginal reactions of individuals to changes in aggregate variables must be identical. It turns out that this condition cannot apply to individuals across different sex/age groups.


Labour force participation Aggregation Serial dependence Spatial dependence Endogeneity

JEL Classification

C21 C23 J21 R23