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Gateway cities and urbanisation in southeast asia before world war II

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  • Gregg Huff

    () (Pembroke College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 1DW, UK)

Abstract

Between the 1870s and World War II, falls in world shipping costs and Western industrialisation gave rise to export-led Southeast Asian growth and specialization 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 paper 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregg Huff, 2012. "Gateway cities and urbanisation in southeast asia before world war II," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _096, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_096
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fletcher, Max E., 1958. "The Suez Canal and World Shipping, 1869-1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(04), pages 556-573, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brata, Aloysius Gunadi, 2017. "Exploring the Influence of Colonial Railways on Java's Economic Geography," MPRA Paper 80097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Swee, Eik Leong & Panza, Laura, 2016. "Good geography, good institutions? Historical evidence from nineteenth-century British colonies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 264-283.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    urbanisation; gateway cities; agglomeration effects; export-led growth; staple exports; urban systems; rank-size distributions; transition matrices;

    JEL classification:

    • N15 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N95 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Asia including Middle East
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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    1. Historical Economic Geography

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