The Catholic University of America
Business and Economics Faculty

Gianfranco Piras – Visiting Professor of Economics


Dr. Gianfranco Piras is a visiting assistant professor of economics at The Catholic University of America. Formerly, he was a research assistant professor at the Regional Research Institute at West Virginia University.

He has also spent time at various institutions including the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, the Regional Economic Application Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and at the GeoDa center at Arizona State University. He held a position of assistant professor at the Universidad Catolica del Norte in Chile.

Dr. Piras is a member of the editorial board of Letters of Spatial and Resource Sciences. He teaches in the area of applied econometrics.

Dr. Piras’ research interests include spatial econometrics and statistics, urban and regional economics, computational methods and software development. He is one of the developers of the R software for statistical computing and he is currently working on two main libraries, for the estimation of spatial panel data models (splm), and for the application of GM methods in spatial econometrics (sphet).

He has been involved in many research projects and he acted as a consultant for various organizations.

Research and Writing

“An Extension of the J-test to a spatial panel data framework” (with H.H. Kelejian), Journal of Applied Econometrics, forthcoming.

“Comparing implementations of Estimation Methods for Spatial Econometrics” (with R. Bivand), Journal of Statistical Software, forthcoming.

“Impact estimates for Static Panel Data Models in R” Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, 2014.

“Estimation of spatial models with endogenous weighting matrices, and an application to a demand model for cigarette”, (with Kelejian H.H.) Regional Science and Urban Economics, 2014.

“Finite sample properties of pre-test estimators of spatial models”, (with Prucha I.R.) Regional Science and Urban Economics, 2014.

“Efficient GM estimation of a Cliff and Ord panel data model with random effects”, Spatial Economic Analysis, 2013.

“Specialization, R&D and productivity growth: Evidence from EU regions” (with Postiglione P. and Aroca P.) Annals of Regional Sciences, 2012.

“On the parameter space in higher order spatial econometrics models” (with Elhorst J.P. and Lacombe D.) Regional science and Urban Economics, 2012.

“splm: spatial panel data models in R”, (with Millo G.), Journal of Statistical Software, 2012.

“Spatial J-test: Some Monte Carlo evidence”, (with Nancy Lozano-Gracia), Statistics and Computing, 22(1): 169-183. (2012).

“A modification and extension of Kelejian’s Jtest”, (with H.H. Kelejian) Regional Science and Urban Economics, 2011.

“Spatial approaches to panel data in Agricultural Economics”, (with Baylis K. and Paulson N.D.), Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 2012.

“sphet: spatial models with heteroskedastic innovations in R”, Journal of Statistical Software, 2010.

“Growth and Convergence in a Multi-regional model with space and time dynamics” (with Elhorst J.P. and Arbia G.), Geographical Analysis, 2010.

"Service industry and cumulative growth in the region of Europe”, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 2009.

“Does evidence on Regional Economic Convergence Depend on the Estimation Strategy? Outcomes from Analysis of a set of NUTS2 EU Regions”, Spatial Economic Analysis, 2008.

“A new class of Spatial Concentration Measures”, Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, (with Arbia G.), 2009.


In His Words ...

Learning the appropriate econometric tools is essential to be able to test any hypothesis. In that sense, in my applied econometric course I provide students with the basic foundations of econometrics and statistical methods, and enable them to develop their own research projects and become not only very good researchers, but also fine policy makers.– Gianfranco Piras



Office: 309 McMahon Hall
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20064

Office Hours: Wednesdays 5 – 7pm

Phone: 202-319-5243




  • ECON 223 – Statistics
  • IEDM/P 543 – Applied Econometrics
  • IEDM/P 562 – Survey Design


Ph.D., Econometrics and Empirical Economics
Tor Vergata University (Rome, Italy) 


Areas of Expertise

  • Applied econometrics
  • Urban and regional economics
  • Computational methods