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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ballinger, Clint, 2011. "Why Geographic Factors are Necessary in Development Studies," MPRA Paper 29750, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:29750
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/29750/1/MPRA_paper_29750.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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, June.
    2. David Harvey, 2011. "Roepke Lecture in Economic Geography—Crises, Geographic Disruptions and the Uneven Development of Political Responses," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 87(1), pages 1-22, January.
    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. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    5. Richard Hartshorne, 1960. "Political geography in the modern world," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 4(1), pages 52-66, March.
    6. Masters, William A & McMillan, Margaret S, 2001. "Climate and Scale in Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 167-186, September.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • N90 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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