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Chapter 1: Theories of Agglomeration and Regional Economic Growth: A Historical Review
1 Theories of agglomeration and regional economic growth: a historical review Philip McCann and Frank van Oort 1.1 Introduction Some observers have argued that the modern treatment of agglomeration economies and regional growth really represents a rediscovery by economists of well-rehearsed concepts and ideas with a long pedigree in economic geography. As such, advocates of this position doubt the validity or originality of much of this recent research. Several criticisms of the monopolistic modelling logic underpinning ‘new economic geography’ have come from economic geography schools of thought as well as both orthodox and heterodox schools of economics. These critiques focus variously on the immeasurability of some of the notions of increasing returns inherent in the new economic geography frameworks, the static nature of some of its assumptions, the speciﬁc focus on the representative ﬁrm, the presence only of pecuniary economies and the absence of either human capital or technological spillovers as externalities. On the other hand, advocates of the new economic approaches argue that their analyses do provide insights into spatial economic phenomena which were previously unattainable under the existing analytical frameworks and toolkits. In this chapter we reﬂect on these current and future developments, putting equal weight on both evolutionary and institutional economic geographical conceptualizations as on geographical economic ones, set oﬀ against a historical review of agglomeration and regional economic growth theories. We show that the modern concepts and modern treatment of agglomeration and regional growth do indeed build upon previous classical insights, while at the...
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