RRI Summer Courses in Spatial Econometrics

July 31- August 3, 2017

The objective of the course is to provide a (not so short) introduction to spatial econometrics. Students will learn how to model and incorporate spatial dependencies into their empirical analyses. The course will cover basic as well as more advanced concepts ranging from the different typologies of spatial data, through the definition of connectivity in space (spatial weights matrices), to a comprehensive treatment of various spatial econometric models both crosssectional as well as panel. Estimation methods presented will include MLE (maximum likelihood), GM (generalized method of moments), GLS (generalized least squares), and GS2SLS (generalized spatial two stage least squares). The latter part of the course will deal with special topics such as panel data models, and various testing procedures.

Gianfranco Piras

The course is organized into a format that includes morning (theoretical) lectures and afternoon computing lab and applications sessions. A reading list will be provided for each of the topics covered. Additional course materials will be provided.

Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a brief statement of interest to Applicants will be screened for suitable levels of preparation and background, and placed into the course on a first come, first served basis.

Important Dates:
Applications period opens: March 13, 2017
Extended Application Deadline: July 1, 2017
Acceptance Notification: Two days after application is received.
Confirm Participation by July 8, 2017

We will be able to admit a limited number of participants based on applications received by the deadline. Participation must be confirmed through the payment of course fees on or before July 8, 2017.

The course fees are $3,000. Fees cover course tuition, lunches and course materials. Submitted fees will be nonrefundable. Accommodation and other living expenses are not included. A block of rooms will be reserved at nearby hotels at a discounted rate.

Additional information and a link for registration will be available soon on the RRI website at:

Workshop on Methods for Regional Science

The RRI Workshop on Methods for Regional Science is composed of a group of sessions created to share applied knowledge. In this workshop, students and professors can share with other members of the WVU community the methodologies and tools used in research, and our goal is to provide help to handle new applications. Students can learn to use tools that they might use for their own research.

This workshop will include in-class demos in which attendants can apply what they are learning. All presentations will be held at the RRI computer lab, room 519 at the CRRB. Because room capacity is limited, attendance will be handled by Eventbrite. (See links below.)
Materials will be posted on this RRI website.

• February 9: Zheng Tian
Presentation: (RRI-WMRS) Emacs, Org-Mode, and Reproducible Research

• February 23: Juan Tomas Sayago
Presentation: (RRI-WMRS) Workshop on How to Make Maps With Qgis and R.

• March 2: Juan Tomas Sayago
Presentation: (RRI-WMRS) Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) with R.

• March 23: Caleb Stair
Presentation: (RRI-WMRS) IO Snap and applications.

• April 6: Juan Tomas Sayago
Presentation: (RRI-WMRS) Spatial Econometrics (Cross Section) with R.

• April 20: Juan Tomas Sayago
Presentation: (RRI-WMRS) Spatial Econometrics (Panel Data) with R.

RRI Seminar November 17, 2016

Patricio Aroca from Chile will present The Smartness Migration Impacts on Smart Cities on Thursday, November 17 at 12:30 P.M. in room 325 Brooks Hall at 12:30 p.m. He is a professor and director of the Center for Economics Policy at Universidad Adolfo Ibanez and associate researcher of the Center for Conflict and Cohesion Studies of the Chilean National Fund for Science.


RRI Seminar Series, Tuesday, October 18, 2016

scwzDr. Max Schweizer, Foreign and Economic Affairs Advisor, Lecturer, and Researcher and Former Swiss Diplomat will discuss Brexit, looking into the historical relations between  Great Britain and continental Europe.

SPEAKER: Dr. Max Schweizer, Foreign & Economic Affairs; Advisory – Lectures – Research

TOPIC: Brexit – the End of “Regionalism” in Europe? Observations of a Former Swiss Diplomat

TIME: Tuesday, October 18, 2016
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

PLACE: Room 325 Brooks Hall.

ABSTRACT: Great Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the EU shocked not only Europe but also the world. Never before has a member country decided to exit this regional integration project. Thus, Great Britain’s new policy brings along challenges the EU has never faced before. Most questions regarding the Brexit remain unanswered. To understand this challenge, a look into the historical relations between Great Britain and continental Europe is indispensable.

Great Britain joined the European Economic Community (ECC), a predecessor of today’s EU, in 1973.  Before that, she initiated the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) dating back to 1960. Only one year later (1961) she tried (!) to initiate membership negotiations with the EEC, while EFTA partners were neither informed nor consulted. Now, more than 43 years after having joined the European integration project, she decides to leave.

The Brexit hurts the ‘European peace project’ both materially and regarding its prestige. Not only is Great Britain the second largest EU economy but also the second largest budget contributor (“net payer”).

The Brexit negotiations are supposed to start “before the end of March 2017.” This is the deadline set by the new British Prime Minister Theresa May. Until then, she promised to symbolically “press the button” (Art. 50, Lisbon treaty) triggering the exit discussions. Article 50 provides a 24 month time frame to find practical solutions.

The Brexit challenge is substantial – but only one of the EU’s multiple problems. Yet, the European history after WWII is proof of the continent’s extraordinary problem-solving capacity. Will it work once more?

BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Schweizer received his doctorate in geography from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He holds an honorary doctorate from the Technical University of Kaunas, Lithuania and is a Visiting Professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhuhai. He spent more than 30 years as a diplomat in the Swiss foreign service, raising to the rank of Minister. He was Deputy Permanent Representative of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland in Geneva to the WTO (World Trade Organization), EFTA (European Free Trade Association) and UNCTAD. During his career Minister Schweizer was posted as Swiss diplomat to South Africa, Saudi-Arabia, Turkey, Finland, Baltic States, and Spain. Drawing on his experiences and expertise, he has published numerous books and has taught in the area of Foreign Affairs and Applied Diplomacy at the School of Management and Law at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur. He is, therefore, in a privileged position to comment on the changing economic-legal landscape in Europe and the rest of the world, including some of its regional implications.

Did you know. . .

During the month of June, the RRI website received nearly 72% new visitors. The top five countries these visitors represented include the U.S., China, United Kingdom, Brazil, and Canada.

The greatest percentage of visitors fell within the 25-34 age group, with 54% being male and 46% being female.

Spatial Econometrics Course Offered this Summer

Dr. Gianfranco Piras will be teaching a spatial econometrics course in which students will learn how to model and incorporate spatial dependencies into their empirical analyses. The course will cover basic and more advanced concepts. The application period opens on May 9, 2016; the deadline is July 1, 2016.

Please click here for more detailed information.

Line-Up for RRI Seminars

As a center of regional research excellence for five decades, the RRI has served as an internationally recognized center for the advancement of Regional Science. This reputation has enabled us to attract renowned speakers who are acknowledged leaders in regional science. Typically we host a limited number of speakers but because this year is our 50th anniversary, we have increased that number. Currently on the list are: Dr. Jacob L. Vigdor, Daniel J. Evans Professor of Public Policy & Governance, University of Washington; Dr. Scott Loveridge, Director of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development at Michigan State University; Dr. Emily Talen, Professor, School of Geographical Science and Urban Planning and School of Sustainability, Arizona State University; Dr. Luc Anselin, Professor and Walter Isard Chair, Arizona State University, and Dr. John Carruthers, Director, Sustainable Urban Planning Program, College of Professional Studies, George Washington University. (More information)

Dr. Randall Jackson, RRI Director and host of the RRI seminar series explains, “To make it easy to attend, RRI seminars are held on the downtown campus. Our audiences represent a cross-section of researchers that include graduate students and faculty from resource economics, economics, geography, and related disciplines. Our visiting speakers take the generalist nature and disciplinary diversity of the audience into account when delivering their presentations. With this in mind, their seminars are mostly contextual and interpretative even though their research will often be based on sophisticated modeling and quantitative approaches.”

Competition for the Miernyk Research Excellence Medal

Deadline to submit papers is Sunday,
February 7, 2016

Upon its 40th anniversary, the Regional Research Institute at West Virginia University initiated an award for scholarly excellence in honor of Dr. William H. Miernyk, founding Director of the Institute. The William H. Miernyk Research Excellence Medal (the Miernyk Medal) is awarded annually to an eligible author of the best paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Regional Science Association.

William H. Miernyk earned both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in economics from the University of Colorado, followed by Masters and Doctoral Degrees in economics from Harvard University. Dedicated to research, he also discovered a love of teaching that would stay with him throughout his entire professorial career. Miernyk taught economics at Harvard, Northeastern University, MIT, and the University of Colorado before being recruited to West Virginia University to establish the Regional Research Institute. He originally committed to only a temporary stay at WVU, but found the area and work so appealing that he abandoned his plans to return to Colorado.

Perhaps best known for his widely distributed and well-received The Elements of Input-Output Analysis (1965), his interests and contributions to knowledge have focused on a much broader set of topics within and beyond regional science. His research interests included IO, environment, energy, labor, and migration in the Appalachian states. He served as a consultant for numerous regional and national agencies. Known for his critical insight, rigor, and excellence in research, his writing was clear and concise. In addition to numerous contributions to the academic literature, his influence extended to the general public through 17 years of weekly columns in the Charleston Gazette.

Eligibility. To be eligible, a Miernyk Medal candidate must

  1. Be the driving intellectual force behind the paper and its primary contributor,
  2. Not be eligible for the Moriarty student paper competition,
  3. Be no more than six years post-Ph.D.,
  4. Not hold a position at a rank higher than Assistant Professor or equivalent, and,
  5. Be registered for the annual meeting and must be in attendance at the SRSA Awards Banquet.

Submission. Submission letters must include documentation of meeting registration, and for papers with multiple authors, must identify the Miernyk Medal candidate. Papers should be submitted via email to by February 7 of the competition year.

Decision. The winning paper will report diligent and systematic enquiry into and discovery of facts or principles relating to a regional science topic. The Miernyk Medal winner will not be announced prior to the Awards Banquet at the annual meeting. The winner will be determined by consensus of the review panel, which may elect not to make an award in the absence of a consensus. The winner receives a commemorative medal and a substantial cash award (in 2014, it was $1500).

Report by two WVU agencies shows positive economic impact of ARC over the past 50 years

(contributors: Don Lacombe, RRI Research Associate Professor; Gianfranco Piras, RRI Affiliate, The Catholic University of America; Juan Sayago-Gomez, RRI Graduate Research Assistant, Economics; Caleb Stair, RRI Graduate Research Assistant, Resource Economics; and Randall Jackson, Geology and Geography Professor and RRI Director. Reprinted in whole with permission from WVUToday.)

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — A report compiled by two West Virginia University organizations shows that the 13-state Appalachian region of the U.S. has experienced substantial economic impact, progress and significant development challenges since the creation of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in 1965.

The two WVU organizations, along with a national research and consulting firm, initiated a study last year to assess the impact of the ARC on the region it serves. That report shows a much improved Appalachian region, but one that also has work to be done.

The report, Appalachia Then and Now: Examining Changes to the Appalachian Region Since 1965, was prepared by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) in the College of Business and Economics and the Regional Research Institute (RRI), both from WVU, and the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), a nonprofit research organization based in Arlington, Virginia. The report was released this week, but also during the year of ARC’s 50th anniversary.

“The Appalachian Region has gone from 295 high-poverty counties in 1960 to 107 today,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl of regional improvements noted in the report. “The region’s high school graduation rates have increased to being almost on par with the nation’s, infant mortality has plummeted, availability of potable water has gone up, and more than 2,000 miles of new highways have been built and opened since President Johnson made his historic 1964 visit to Martin County, Kentucky.

“The challenge going forward is to use the region’s assets: a history of hard work, innovative solutions to complex problems, and strong families and communities to leverage today’s emerging economic opportunities into a diverse and vibrant economic future.”

Several governors had high praise for the positive findings in the report and the achievements of ARC to date, including West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. West Virginia is the only state that lies entirely within the geographic region served by the ARC.

“I’m pleased with the work we’ve done not only to strengthen West Virginia’s business climate, but also to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Appalachian Region,” Tomblin said. “As this report indicates, we’ve made great progress, but there is still work to be done.”

ARC is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state and local government, and was created in 1965 with the passage of the Appalachian Regional Development Act. A broad, bipartisan coalition in Congress approved the legislation that year, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The project examined socioeconomic trends in Appalachia, analyzed the economic impacts of numerous ARC economic development programs, and determined the perceptions of local stakeholders regarding past impacts and future directions of ARC programs. The three-agency research team brought together nationally recognized expertise in: regional quantitative and economic impact analysis; economic development policy design and implementation; economic development program evaluation; and local and regional economic development strategic planning. All of the senior researchers on the team also have direct experience working in Appalachia, as well as in rural and distressed communities elsewhere.

“This research will help identify which economic development strategies are most effective, and will ultimately help the ARC and others design stronger economic development strategies in the future,” said BBER Director Dr. John Deskins.

Deskins emphasized the importance of examining the effectiveness of ARC’s involvement in the 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. The Appalachian Region includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Randy Jackson, geology and geography professor and RRI director, said that while it focuses on the 13-state ARC region, the ARC impact also extends far beyond its own geographic boundaries. “We have an opportunity here to assess and develop a really deep and comprehensive understanding of the tangible effects of ARC’s regional economic development programs,” said Jackson.

Statistics show that 42 percent of the region’s population is rural, compared with 20 percent of the national population.

Major points of the study, as noted by ARC, are as follows:

* Poverty has been cut in half in Appalachia; the rate has dropped from nearly 31 percent in 1960 to 16.6 percent today.

* Only 3.2 percent of Appalachian houses today still lack complete plumbing, as compared with 2.0 percent nationally, a stark improvement from the nearly 14 percent lacking complete plumbing in 1970.

* Infant-mortality rates have dropped by more than two-thirds in Appalachia, moving much closer toward parity with the rest of the nation. But overall mortality rates are also up in the Region, while they continue to fall in the rest of the country.

* The Region has achieved near-parity in high school graduation rates, an important accomplishment; but Appalachia remains behind in post-secondary educational attainment.

* Major progress in reducing the Region’s isolation has been achieved through construction of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) connecting Appalachia to the Interstate Highway System. As of September 2014, a total of 2,762.9 miles, or 89.4 percent of the 3,090 miles authorized for the ADHS, were either complete or under construction.

* Total economic impacts on the Region of completing the ADHS would, by 2035, result in the creation of an estimated 80,500 jobs, $5 billion in increased value-added production, and $3.2 billion in increased wages for Appalachian workers. At the national level, the estimated return on investment yields $3 for every dollar invested.

* Since 1965, ARC has funded nearly 25,000 strategic investments in nonhighway activities in the Region; funding for these investments included $3.8 billion in appropriated ARC funds and $9 billion in matching funds from other federal, state, and local funding sources.

* Since 1978, ARC-financed nonhighway investments in Appalachia have attracted nearly $16 billion in leveraged private investment, an average of $6.40 in private-sector financing for each $1 in funds invested by ARC. The ratio reached nearly 10 to 1 in the period 2007–2012, and nearly 15 to 1 in 2013.

* Over the last five decades, ARC’s investments have helped create nearly 312,000 jobs and $10 billion in added earnings in the Region. On average, annually, these ARC funds supported an estimated 6,364 jobs and $204 million (in constant 2013 dollars) in earnings.

* A rigorous quasi-experimental research method indicates that ARC investments helped counties add employment at a 4.2 percent faster rate and increase per-capita income at a 5.5 percent faster rate than similar counties outside of the Region that did not receive ARC investments.

* Since the 2008–09 recession, the Region’s unemployment rate has tracked the U.S. rate closely, with a few persistent pockets of joblessness, similar to the rest of the country.

* The Region is becoming less reliant on employment from resource-extractive and goods-producing sectors and more dependent on the service sector for employment.

* As late as 1970, 16.2 percent of area homes did not have access to phone service, compared with 13 percent of households nationally. By 2012, the proportion of households without phone services in the Appalachian Region was about 2.8 percent, very nearly the same as the national average of 2.5 percent.

* Appalachia trails significantly in the affordability of Internet service, as well as in access to high-speed broadband, especially at the household or business-unit level.

* There has been a steady outmigration of adults between the ages of 18 and 35 from the Region for access to jobs and other opportunities.

The full report is available on the ARC website at



About the partners

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multi-county local development districts.

The Regional Research Institute (RRI) at West Virginia University (WVU) promotes scholarly research focusing on theories and history of regional development, methods for studying regions, and policies for stimulating their development.

The Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at West Virginia University (WVU) provides the state’s business and policymaking communities with reliable data and rigorous applied economic research and analysis that enables the state’s leaders to design better business practices and public policies.

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization founded to provide policy-makers from around the world with the information and technical assistance they need to formulate and execute innovative, regional, job-creating economic strategies.

RRI Seminar, October 27 Features Dr. Anthony H. Grubesic

On Tuesday, October 27, 2015, Dr. Anthony Grubesic presented “Essential Air Service: Challenges for Enhancing Transport Access in Rural America,” at the RRI Seminar session held at 325 Brooks Hall. The seminar ran from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. with time for questions after the session.

Dr. Grubesic is a Professor in the College of Public Service &  Community Solutions and and Director of the Center for Spatial Reasoning & Policy Analytics at Arizona State University. His research and teaching interests are in geographic information science, regional development and public policy evaluation. Author of over 110 research publications, his recent work focuses on critical infrastructure vulnerability, broadband Internet deployment in the United States and air transportation systems. Grubesic obtained a B.A. in Political Science from Willamette University, a B.S. in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a M.A. in Geography from the University of Akron and a Ph.D. in Geographic Information Science from Ohio State University.