Updated: May 31
Abstract: The year 2008 was important for the field of economic geography: Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics, partly for his work conceptualizing the spatial allocation of economic activity, and the World Bank published a World Development Report called Reshaping Economic Geography. While these and other efforts were influential in high-lighting long-standing issues of spatial inequity and missed regional growth opportunities, the financial crisis diverted policy attention to more immediate issues of resuscitating national economies. This volume, Place, Productivity, and Prosperity, is similarly launched in a traumatic year, but geography this time is a central and inescapable concern. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has presented a humanitarian and economic crisis of historic proportions that at once reminds us of our global connectedness while highlighting how levels of development that differ between and within countries map directly to mortality. The “code red” alert issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concerning human-driven global warming explicitly acknowledges the geographical inequity of the impact of climate change: high temperatures, rising sea levels, and flooding will make entire regions suffer economically or even become uninhabitable. All this is occurring against a backdrop of concerns about automation and globalization having undermined the comparative advantage of some regions, increasing unemployment and misery, and international migration that is seen as posing a threat to local jobs and identities. And at an even deeper level lie centuries-old disparities of well-being within countries.