PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2010, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (12): 1518-1524.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2010.12.007

• Original Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The Dialogues between the New Economic Geography and Economic Geography: Past and the Future

PAN Fenghua, HE Canfei   

  1. Department of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2009-12-01 Revised:2010-07-01 Online:2010-12-25 Published:2010-12-25


The new economic geography has become a hot topic in academia after Krugman won the Nobel Prize in 2008. In the annual conference of AAG in 2009, a special session was organized to discuss about the influence of the Krugman’s noble prize on economic geography. In the discussion, some economic geographers favored Krugman’s theory, and some opposed it. In the next year’s AAG conference, Krugman was invited to give a speech in front of geographers from all over the world about the new economic geography, which was a very good opportunity for Krugman to response to the critics from geographers. In his speech, Krugman emphasized that the new economic geography was developed at the time when the main stream economics had neglected the spatial dimension of economy for a long time. And his efforts were aimed to bring the geographical dimension into the main stream economics and it seemed that he had succeeded. Krugman acknowledged the shortcomings of the new economic geography theory in his speech. Krugman explained the differences between economics and economic geography in terms of methodology. He also reviewed the core-periphery model of the new economic geography theory and he admitted that it was still a big challenge to take the information spillover effect into account when modeling. In the final parts of his speech, Krugman pointed out that the economic geography phenomenon in the newly industrialized economies, especially China, were more consistent with the prediction of the new economic geography theory. He suggested that the new economic geography theory should be incorporated with the comparative advantage trade theory, in order to explain the present global distribution of economic activities. Krugman’s speech was quite helpful to eliminate the misunderstanding of the new economic geography from geographers. The criticisms on the new economic geography from geographer and economists are compared in this article. Geographers have paid more attention to the unrealistic assumptions of the modeling. Despite the weak points of the new economic geography, people are still working on the theory to make it more realistic and powerful, which will have the potentials to provide new perspectives for the economic geography studies. Meanwhile, the richness and complexity of the traditional economic geography studies can shed some light on the modeling of the new economic geography. In terms of policy implications, the new economic geography is criticized for its unrealistic assumptions, while the results of the traditional economic geography studies are usually difficult to be generalized due to the uniqueness of the specific cases. Therefore, people in the study of the new economic geography and traditional economic geography should cooperate in the future.

Key words: AAG annual conference, economic geography, economics, new economic geography