PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (12): 2101-2115.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2021.12.010

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Progress of research on economic complexity and regional economic development in the perspective of evolutionary economic geography

REN Zhuoran1,2(), HE Canfei1,2,*(), WANG Wenyu1   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. Peking University-Lincoln Institute Center for Urban Development and Land Policy, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2020-12-10 Revised:2021-06-24 Online:2021-12-28 Published:2021-12-24
  • Contact: HE Canfei;
  • Supported by:
    Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China(41731278)


Economic complexity is one of the important topics in evolutionary economic geography in recent years. Its attention to the transformation of industrial structure and the path of endogenous growth plays an important role in deepening the theories of economic geography and development economics, and helps to understand the transformation process of regional economic structure. This article reviewed the theoretical background of economic complexity, and examined the connotation, concept, and theoretical framework of economic complexity from the perspective of evolutionary economic geography. Then it reviewed the mainstream measurement methods of economic complexity. Based on the theory of diversification and product space, this article explored the mechanism of economic complexity on regional economic development, and then reviewed the progress of empirical research of economic complexity on regional economic growth, regional income disparity, and innovation. We found that most of the literature has proved the positive effect of economic complexity on regional economic development. Based on the idea of improving the product space density, regional economic complexity can be promoted by improving the industrial capacity and innovation ability. China's economic complexity is higher than that of other countries at the same income level, and its development path has unique characteristics, which provides a case for the theoretical study of economic complexity and has strong policy implications.

Key words: economic complexity, evolutionary economic geography, product space, regional economic development