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January 2016

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Asian Research Policy



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regional economic development, regional development, regional growth, theoretical review


Economic History | Economic Theory | Regional Economics


The purpose of this paper is to survey the evolution of theories in the field of regional economic development in the past two centuries (1800-2000) before the new millennium. Theories from the ‘spacial’ dimension and from the ‘economic’ dimension are understood as the classical foundation of the field. Important theories are identified and discussed for regional economic development. Specifically, the topics examined here first center around the mechanisms behind regional economic growth, answering questions such as why growth happens in certain regions, why growth can shift to other places, and what factors or environments can foster growth in certain regions. Then the more recent discussions focus on theories regarding globalization and spatial division of labor, industrial districts, and social institutions that foster the growth of regions. The paper closes with a brief discussion of the spatial views from the mainstream economists in the late twentieth century. Future research needs to examine main theories in the twenty-first century in the field of regional economic development to complete the picture.


This article was published in Asian Research Policy, volume 7, issue 2, 2016. This article is also available online at the following link:
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