Technical Report Measuring Remoteness Using a Data-Driven Approach

CHEN, Stacey H.  ,  CHEN, Yu-Kuan  ,  WU, Huey-Min

17-032017-05 , GRIPS Policy Research Center
Datasets of schools or hospitals often include an urban.rural divide drawn by government. Such partition is typically determined by subjective thresholds for a few variables, such as access to transportation and local population size, leaving aside relevant factors despite data availability. We propose to measure ‘remoteness’ by mapping a comprehensive set of covariates onto a scalar, and define an objective score of remoteness using a standard selection model. We apply the proposed method to data from Taiwanese public elementary schools. Our method replaces 35% and 47% respectively of the current official list of ‘remote’ and ‘extra-remote’ campuses, shifting the remoteness designation to those furthest from train stations, having the highest teacher vacancy percentages, and located in the least populous areas with the least well-educated populations. The campus- and district-level variables used are publicly available and periodically updated in most advanced economies, and the statistical model can be easily implemented.

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