Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

Where Is the South? Using Beta Convergence to Define a Fuzzy Region

Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

Where Is the South? Using Beta Convergence to Define a Fuzzy Region

Article excerpt

The American South is a region with a strong regional identity. This identity is frequently examined through cultural terms, but has also been examined in relation to its economic changes post-WWII. In that time, the South has seen a rapid rate of growth in relation to the historic poverty of the region. Using that growth as a starting point, this paper couches that growth in Convergence Theory as a new way of defining the South. Global and Local Moran's I tests are run for BEA Economic Area Per Capita Personal income for 1970 and 2004 to identify the local clusters of PCPI associated with a converging region over time. Those clusters are then used to define a "functional" economic South.

El Sur de los EE.UU. es una region con una fuerte identidad regional. Esta identidad es frecuentemente examinada a traves de terminos culturales, pero tambien ha sido examinada en relacion a los cambios economicos experimentados despues de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. En ese transcurso de tiempo, el Sur ha experimentado un rdpido ritmo de crecimiento en relacion a la pobreza historica de la region. Utilizando ese crecimiento como punto de partida, este manuscrito localiza ese crecimiento en la Teoria de la Convergencia como una nueva forma de definir el Sur. Pruebas de Moran I Global y Local son divertidas para Area Economica Bea de lngreso Personal Per Capita (PCPI) para 1970 y 2004, y para identificar las aglomeraciones locales del PCPI asociadas a una region de convergencia a traves del tiempo. Esas aglomeraeiones se utilizan para definir un Sur eeondmieamente "funcional".

KEY WORDS: Beta Convergence, New South, Economic Development


The American South is a region where economic, cultural, and physical characteristics work together to form a region distinct from the rest of the nation (Odum 1936). In economic and cultural terms, this uniqueness is frequently attributed to the role of the farm in the Southern economy and how the farm economy has influenced the culture of the region in contrast to the mercantile and industrial North (Henry 1988). These economic and cultural differences are most famously exhibited in the Civil War. While the concept of the South as a unique region is a common part of American history, there is a lingering question as to the actual definition of the South (Alderman and Fournier 1998). A simple definition of the South would be the Confederacy, but such a definition would ignore the cultural identification that Southerners feel about themselves (Webster and Leib 2001). This cultural identification and shared heritage can be used in the efforts to identify the South, though these efforts fail to pro vide either a consistent approach or regional definition (Odum 1936; Alderman and Fournier 1998; Alderman 2000). This paper proposes that an alternative method using convergence theory and spatial statistics can be used to define the South. By defining the South in economic terms, this paper can serve as a complement to the literature exploring the cultural aspects of the South, as well as serving as a starting point for greater inquiry into the growth of the Southern economy by identifying the specific regions that have experienced the noted economic growth.


As noted in the introduction, much of the previous research focused on defining and understanding the South has focuses on cultural aspects. Within this realm, the approaches and findings of Howard Odum and John Shelton Reed serve as a starting point. Their definitions of the South, as well as a method derived from a modern contemporary, Derek Alderman, are mapped in Figure 1. These definitions are consistent in a general southern core consisting of Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. The northern and western boundaries are where the South becomes fuzzier and the South could extend in to central Texas and parts of Ohio and Indiana depending on the classification method. …

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