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

By Kevin R. Cox | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
The Geography of Economic Development

INTRODUCTION

A major world problem that has come to the attention of the educated public since the end of the Second World War is that of economic development. Just as the division of the economic pie within nations is reflected in a distribution between "haves" and "have-nots" so there are "have" nations like the United States and Sweden and "have-not" nations like India, China, and Indonesia. Similarly, within countries such as the United States, Sweden, or Indonesia, there are "have" regions and "have-not" regions.

The intent of this chapter is to take a look at locational patterns of economic development and attempt to explain them. In the first part of the chapter we are predominantly concerned with the idea of economic development and how we can measure it. Of what does economic development consist? Is it possible to rank countries in terms of their economic development in a precise manner? Second, we examine those elements of locational pattern or spatial predictability that seem to characterize economic development patterns. Are there neighborhood effects in economic development? Do economically developed areas tend to be clustered in space or be scattered widely across the landscape? These are the questions we ask in this section. Third, we ask the question, why should there be geographical predictability in economic development patterns anyway? What are the forces that produce whatever spatial regularity -- localization, clustering, and so on -- we are able to identify in economic development patterns? This problem of explanation is explored not only from the viewpoint of the geography of development within nations but also from the point of view of the geography of development between nations. Finally, we examine the geography of economic development as a political problem and explore some of the locational policies likely to resolve the problem. Before examining economic development from the geographical viewpoint, describing and explaining any spatial predictabilities inherent in its distribution over the earth's surface, however, it is necessary to ask "Of what does economic development consist? And how can we measure it?"


THE CONCEPT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

We all have an image of underdeveloped countries acquired from newspapers, TV, and radio, and we have gained some idea about the types of dis-

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