Man, Location, and Behavior: An Introduction to Human Geography

By Kevin R. Cox | Go to book overview

CONCLUSIONS AND SUMMARY

This chapter has attempted to illustrate the principles explained in Chapter Three with two case studies: (1) oceanic movements of iron ore and (2) human migration patterns. The first illustrates especially well the role of movement costs and the tendency for movement costs to be lower over a shorter distance. Japan, therefore, has looked to adjacent South and Southeast Asia for its iron-ore imports rather than further afield. Technological innovations such as the giant ore carrier, however, are increasing the transferability of iron ore. Also exemplified is the idea of complementarity between underdeveloped nations with iron-ore surpluses and steel-producing nations deficient in domestic iron ore, such as the U.S.A., West Germany, and the United Kingdom.

The study of migration, on the other hand, illustrates the fact that attractiveness or place utility for the migrant is made up of several components such as amenity, economic opportunity, and housing. The significance of these factors varies for migrations at different geographical scales; for migrations within the city, for instance, variations in housing are important but economic opportunity is not.

The migration case study is also useful from the viewpoint of illustrating an inferential problem often encountered in geography. In brief, it is often tempting to argue from pattern to process: we are inclined to attribute distance biases in migration to movement cost factors, for instance. Several processes can produce the same geographical pattern, however, and more subtle mechanisms may be at work in this particular case: the fact that most migrants know more about closer than about more distant places is a case in point.

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