Applied Evolutionary Economics and Economic Geography

Applied Evolutionary Economics and Economic Geography

Edited by Koen Frenken

Applied Evolutionary Economics and Economic Geography aims to further advance empirical methodologies in evolutionary economics, with a special emphasis on geography and firm location. It does so by bringing together a select group of leading scholars including economists, geographers and sociologists, all of whom share an interest in explaining the uneven distribution of economic activities in space and the historical processes that have produced these patterns.

Chapter 4: The Evolution of Geographic Structure in New Industries

Steven Klepper

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, evolutionary economics, geography, economic geography, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


Steven Klepper* 1. INTRODUCTION In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest among economists in questions related to geography. In part spurred by the clustering of economic activity in Silicon Valley, attention has focused on why certain industries agglomerate narrowly in one or a few regions. Ellison and Glaeser (1997) developed an index to measure geographic clustering in industries. It calibrates the extent to which clustering in an industry exceeds what would be expected merely on the basis of the chance location of a limited number of plants of unequal size. Their findings suggest that some degree of agglomeration is the norm, but the kind of extreme clustering present in Silicon Valley is the exception. While clustering in some industries can be explained by the uneven geographic distribution of a key input, instances of clustering like in Silicon Valley seem to reflect a deeper process at work. Exactly what that process is and why its effects vary across industries has been the object of much theorizing in recent years. Testing of the new theories of geography, though, has lagged behind. The object of this chapter is to review recent evidence and theorizing on the evolution of a select group of new industries to probe the determinants of the geographic structure of industries. Modern theories of geography feature the influence of agglomeration economies on the location of producers. Such economies can derive from the sharing of inputs whose production involves increasing returns, labor market pooling that...

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