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Increasing Returns and Economic Geography


  • Paul Krugman


This paper develops a two-region, two-sector general equilibriun model of location. The location of agricultural production is fixed, but ionopolistcally competitive manufacturing finns choose their location to maximize profits. If transportation costs are high, returns to scale weak, and the share of spending on manufactured goods low, the incentive to produce close to the market leads to an equal division of manufacturing between the regions. With lower transport costs, stronger scale economies, or a higher manufacturing share, circular causation sets in: the more manufacturing is located in one region, the larger that region's share of demand, and this provides an incentive to locate still more manufacturing there. Thus when the parameters of the economy lie even slightly on one side of a critical "phase boundary", all manufacturing production ends up concentrated in only one region.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3275
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Paul Krugman, 1989. "History Vs. Expectations," NBER Working Papers 2971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-959, December.
    4. Arthur, W Brian, 1989. "Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-In by Historical Events," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 116-131, March.
    5. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
    6. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1989. "Industrialization and the Big Push," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1003-1026, October.
    7. Romer, Paul M, 1987. "Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 56-62, May.
    8. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
    9. Helpman, Elhanan, 1981. "International trade in the presence of product differentiation, economies of scale and monopolistic competition : A Chamberlin-Heckscher-Ohlin approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 305-340, August.
    10. Krugman, Paul R, 1981. "Intraindustry Specialization and the Gains from Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 959-973, October.
    11. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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