Export-led Growth, Gateway Cities and Urban Systems Development in Pre-World War II Southeast Asia
Between the 1870s and World War II, falls in world shipping costs and Western industrialisation gave rise to export-led Southeast Asian growth and specialisation in a narrow range of primary commodity exports. A linked development was the emergence of a few dominant Southeast Asian urban centres, typically primate and always ports. Drawing on historical census data, this article uses rank-size distributions and transition matrices to investigate the influence of commodity specialisation and exports on urban systems development in the region. It is argued that different commodities produced different spread effects, resulting in variation in degrees of urban concentration in the region. However, geography, path dependence and infrastructure also shaped urban systems development. The main cities that emerged during this period became the ‘gateways’ that connected frontier Southeast Asia to the global economy. Cities dominant in 1939 retain this status in today's Southeast Asia.
Volume (Year): 48 (2012)
Issue (Month): 10 (October)
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