Why, you may wonder, is an economist presenting a major address today at the Association of American Geographers? Looking back and looking forward, Paul Krugman’s speech provides the answer.
Economic geography involves mathematical modeling and also costume jewelry in Providence, RI and detachable collars and cuffs in Troy, NY. A 2008 World Bank report says that it involves seeing the world through a 3D lens: density (cities), distance (migration), and division (barriers).
Economic geography takes us at first to the regional specialization that characterized the growth of US manufacturing during the 19th century. But then, we need to go to Wenzhou, where 95% of the world’s cigarette lighters are now made, elsewhere in China, and to other developing nations.
The point of all of this? Together, economics and geography create a synergy through which we can better understand regional specialization and economic growth in developing nations.
The Economic Life
The World Bank’s 3D’s involve the Density that we find in population centers, the Distance that people migrate to enjoy economic opportunity, and the Division that needs to be overcome when migration is blocked by political barriers.