Issues in the Distribution Dynamics Approach to the Analysis of Regional Economic Growth and Convergence: Spatial Effects and Small Samples

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In the study of regional economic growth and convergence, the distribution dynamics approach which interrogates the evolution of the cross-sectional distribution as a whole and is concerned with both the

In the study of regional economic growth and convergence, the distribution dynamics approach which interrogates the evolution of the cross-sectional distribution as a whole and is concerned with both the external and internal dynamics of the distribution has received wide usage. However, many methodological issues remain to be resolved before valid inferences and conclusions can be drawn from empirical research. Among them, spatial effects including spatial heterogeneity and spatial dependence invalidate the assumption of independent and identical distributions underlying the conventional maximum likelihood techniques while the availability of small samples in regional settings questions the usage of the asymptotic properties. This dissertation is comprised of three papers targeted at addressing these two issues. The first paper investigates whether the conventional regional income mobility estimators are still suitable in the presence of spatial dependence and/or a small sample. It is approached through a series of Monte Carlo experiments which require the proposal of a novel data generating process (DGP) capable of generating spatially dependent time series. The second paper moves to the statistical tests for detecting specific forms of spatial (spatiotemporal) effects in the discrete Markov chain model, investigating their robustness to the alternative spatial effect, sensitivity to discretization granularity, and properties in small sample settings. The third paper proposes discrete kernel estimators with cross-validated bandwidths as an alternative to maximum likelihood estimators in small sample settings. It is demonstrated that the performance of discrete kernel estimators offers improvement when the sample size is small. Taken together, the three papers constitute an endeavor to relax the restrictive assumptions of spatial independence and spatial homogeneity, as well as demonstrating the difference between the small sample and asymptotic properties for conventionally adopted maximum likelihood estimators towards a more valid inferential framework for the distribution dynamics approach to the study of regional economic growth and convergence.