Economic geography is the study of the location, distribution and spatial organization of economic activities across the Earth. The subject matter investigated is strongly influenced by the researcher's methodological approach. Neoclassical location theorists, following in the tradition of Alfred Weber, tend to focus on industrial location and use quantitative methods. Since the 1970s, two broad reactions against neoclassical approaches have significantly changed the discipline: Marxist political economy, growing out of the work of David Harvey; and the new economic geography which takes into account social, cultural, and institutional factors in the spatial economy.
Economic geography is usually regarded as a subfield of the discipline of geography, although recently economists such as Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs have pursued interests that can be considered part of economic geography. Krugman has gone so far as to call his application of spatial thinking to international trade theory the "new economic geography", which directly competes with an approach within the discipline of geography that is also called "new economic geography". The name geographical economics has been suggested as an alternative.
Given the variety of approaches, economic geography has taken to many different subject matters, including: the location of industries, economies of agglomeration (also known as "linkages"), transportation, international trade and development, real estate, gentrification, ethnic economies, gendered economies, core-periphery theory, the economics of urban form, the relationship between the environment and the economy (tying into a long history of geographers studying culture-environment interaction), and globalization. This list is by no means exhaustive.
Thematically economic geography can be divided into these sub disciplines:
However, their areas of study may overlap with another geographical sciences or may be considered on their own.
First traces of the study of spatial aspects of economic activities on Earth can be found in Strabo's Geographika written almost 2000 years ago. This has recently been challenged, however, by seven Chinese maps of the State of Qin dating to the 4th century BC.
Valuable contributions came from location theorists such as Johann Heinrich von Thünen or Alfred Weber. Other influential theories were Walter Christaller's Central place theory, the theory of core and periphery.
Fred K. Schaefer's article Exceptionalism in geography: A Methodological Examination published in American journal Annals (Association of American Geographers) and his critique of regionalism had a big impact on economic geography. The article became a rallying point for the younger generation of economic geographers who were intent on reinventing the discipline as a science. Quantitative methods became prevailing in research. Well-known economic geographers of this period are William Garrison, Brian Berry, Waldo Tobler, Peter Haggett, William Bunge (Apurba Dutta,Ranibandh) Contemporary economic geographers tend to specialize in areas such as location theory and spatial analysis (with the help of geographic information systems), market research, geography of transportation, land or real estate price evaluation, regional and global development, planning, Internet geography, innovation, social networks and others.
Economists and economic geographers differ in their methods in approaching similar economic problems in several ways. To generalize, an economic geographer will take a more holistic approach in the analysis of economic phenomena, which is to conceptualize a problem in terms of space, place and scale as well as the overt economic problem that is being examined. The economist approach, according to economic geographers, has four main drawbacks or manifestations of “economic orthodoxy that tends to homogenize the economic world in way that economic geographers try to avoid (Coe et al. p.10)” The first is universalism, which means that economists think that one set of financial remedies will work in every situation without taking factors such as space, place and scale into consideration. The second is economic rationality; that is, thinking the most probable cause of a problem is in fact the source of the problem. The third is economists assuming that capitalism (or competition and equilibrium) is the best economic approach for any economic problem or economic phenomena that may be analyzed. The fourth is that economists think in terms of processes based on certain laws and principles in the field of economics (Coe et al. p.11). An economic geographer, in contrast, will use his or her expertise in many fields to determine the underlying causes of an economic problem holistically.
4. Yeung, Henry Wai-Chung, Neil M. Coe, and Philip F. Kelly. Economic Geography : A Contemporary Introduction. Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited, 2007.
Economic Geography - founded and published quarterly at Clark University since 1925
Journal of Economic Geography - published by Oxford University Press since 2001
Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie - The German Journal of Economic Geography published since 1956.
Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie (TESG) - Published by The Royal Dutch Geographical Society (KNAG) since 1948.