Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 273–289 | Cite as

The Spatial Dependence of Judicial Data

  • Carlos J. VilaltaEmail author


This article examines the significance of spatial dependence in judicial activity rates using aggregated geographical data of 60 Mexican metropolitan areas. It begins with a theoretical discussion on spatial variation, spatial dependence, and spatial heterogeneity. Later, spatial statistics demonstrate a strong clustering of judicial activity in northern Mexico. In terms of social correlates, judicial activity is found to significantly increase with better public institutions and to decrease with better urban infrastructure conditions. Spatial models accounted for the spatial autocorrelation in the residuals, telling that the spatial variation in judicial activity is not independent of the aggregate social characteristics of the population. These results support the functional versus the local contextual hypothesis of spatial variation. However, additional research is needed to evaluate the impact of future institutional and urban infrastructure developments. A crucial implication of the results is that future legal empirical research must incorporate spatial effects into their models.


Theft crimes Judicial data Spatial dependence Spatial statistics Mexico 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Economic Research and Education (CIDE) and Visiting Scholar in the Center for Applied StatisticsWashington UniversitySt. Louis (WUSTL)USA

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