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Using Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis to Leverage Social Indicator Databases: The Discovery of Interesting Patterns

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With the proliferation of social indicator databases, the need for powerful techniques to study patterns of change has grown. In this paper, the utility of spatial data analytical methods such as exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA) is suggested as a means to leverage the information contained in social indicator databases. The principles underlying ESDA are illustrated using a study of clusters and outliers based on data for a child risk scale computed for countries in the state of Virginia. Evidence of spatial clusters of high child risks is obtained along the Southern region of Virginia. The utility of spatial methods for state agencies in monitoring social indicators at various localities is discussed. A six-step framework that integrates spatial analysis of key indicators within a monitoring framework is presented; we argue that such a framework could be useful in enhancing communication between State and local planners.

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Sridharan’s research was supported in part by a National Institute of Justice Grant 2002-IJ-CX-0010 to Westat. Anselin’s research was supported in part,by US National Science Foundation Grant BCS-9978058 to the Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science (CSISS).

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Correspondence to Sanjeev Sridharan.

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Given cost considerations, the original color figures have been printed in black and white in this article. The color figures can be obtained from

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Anselin, L., Sridharan, S. & Gholston, S. Using Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis to Leverage Social Indicator Databases: The Discovery of Interesting Patterns. Soc Indic Res 82, 287–309 (2007).

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