New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Bernard Fingleton
Bernard Fingleton The body of theory known as new economic geography (NEG) is ﬁrst and foremost an outcome of the creative imagination of economists and not geographers, although one could easily be misled by the name commonly attributed1 to this branch of economics. Indeed, it is not stretching the truth too far to claim that it is primarily a creation of a ‘single’ cohort of prominent economists,2 the most notable among them being Paul Krugman, and it in part due to Krugman’s status that the economics profession sat up and took note of this new development in economic theory, which is rooted in the theoretical systems of mainstream economics, particularly international trade theory, in which Krugman and Venables in particular have substantial reputations. As one might expect, this reinterpretation of what economic geography is, should or could be, sent shock waves throughout the community of economic geographers proper, and invoked some ardent criticism from within the geography profession. Probably the most prominent and notable critique, which received widespread coverage in a popular economics magazine3 with a global circulation, was that of Ron Martin (1999), a geographer here at Cambridge, whose often cited work lists many of the limitations of this new approach to economic geography. Within the economics profession itself, not everyone was happy with the new turn of events, which put space centre stage in a way that had never before been possible. For example, there was serious criticism of the theoretical assumptions underpinning the NEG by Peter...