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Why Geographic Factors are Necessary in Development Studies

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  • Ballinger, Clint

Abstract

This paper proposes that the resurgence of geographic factors in the study of uneven development is not due simply to the recurrent nature of intellectual fashions, nor necessarily because arguments that rely on geographic factors are less simplistic than before, nor because they avoid racialist, imperialistic, and deterministic forms they sometimes took in the past. Rather, this paper argues that geographic factors have been turned to once again because they are an indispensable part of explanation, playing a special role that has not been properly understood, a role especially crucial for the explanation of the inherently spatial questions that development studies seek to address. The paper is made up of two sections and an appendix. The first section discusses why geographic factors are necessary for explanations of uneven development with a brief example from the ‘institutions versus geography’ debate. The second section discusses why the reflexive rejection by social scientists of geographic and environmental factors is misguided, with a separate note on geography and geographers. The ideas in this paper were in part arrived at inductively while surveying instances where social scientists in some way attempt to account for real-world locations/distributions of social phenomena (as opposed to discussing a social theory or process aspatially or with its distribution taken as a starting point). A number of these are included with discussion as an appendix.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 29750.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:29750

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Keywords: geographic determinism; environmental determinism; economic development; Daron Acemoglu; Jeffrey Sachs; Jared Diamond; explanation; exogenous factors; location; distribution; colonialism; biogeography;

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  1. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, 06.
  2. William A. Masters & Margaret S. McMillan, 2000. "Climate and Scale In Economic Growth," CID Working Papers 48, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  3. A J Scott & D P Angel, 1987. "The US semiconductor industry: a locational analysis," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 19(7), pages 875-912, July.
  4. Kevin Sylwester, 2003. "Income Inequality And Population Density 1500 Ad: A Connection," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 28(2), pages 61-82, December.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
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