Heterogeneity in the determinants of population growth at the local level: analysis of the Spanish case with a GWR approach

Diana Gutiérrez-Posada, Fernando Rubiera-Morollon, Ana Viñuela

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Formal modeling of local population growth has usually tended to focus on identifying patterns that are presumed to hold universally. However, as Glaeser, Ponzetto, and Tobio highlighted, these laws are reliable for long-term dynamics; but in some moments or for some places, the balance between the different factors may change, giving rise to different specific behaviors. In this article, we study local population growth in Spain with no intention of searching for universal patterns. Rather, we are interested in identifying how relevant the temporal and spatial heterogeneity may be, that is, to assess the even and uneven effects that population growth determinants can exert across time and space. The geographically weighted regression (GWR) approach applied in this article for two different decades, 1991–2001 and 2001–2011, captures the spatial heterogeneity. Results on the spatially differentiated population growth factors are compared with the global ordinary least squares (OLS) estimators for both decades. Essential factors in urban and regional economics such as size (initial population) or distance (either to the big cities or to the coast) can have different effects on population growth across both space and time, corresponding to the global estimated effects for some areas but diverging from these in others. Using GWR estimation procedures, we can identify changes in the sign or in the intensity of a factor’s effect across space, such that some factors could enhance population growth in one place but reduce it in another. Only after all spatially differentiated local effects have been analyzed and taken into consideration can appropriate national or regional policies be designed à la carte to promote, retain, or deter population growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-240
JournalInternational Regional Science Review
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • population growth factors
  • local analysis
  • spatial heterogeneity
  • geographical weighted regressions
  • Spain


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