Urban Economies and Development: An Editorial Introduction
AbstractThis issue brings together two important areas of research in modern human geography: the investigation of spatial variation and change in cities, and the location and development of economic activity. Urban-economic analysis continues to be a vital and growing area of geography, in large part because the issues addressed within this study area are directly relevant to both the threats and opportunities that face human societies today. Cities are hosts to an ever-increasing proportion of the world’s population, and as such are the prime venues for emerging issues of concern such as overcrowding, economic deprivation, poverty, joblessness, environmental degradation, and diseconomies of scale associated with rapid urban development. At the same time as these unambiguously negative effects have emerged in cities, urban areas have also become focal points for the forces of globalization that have created a world economy that is increasingly interlinked, for good and for ill – in Thomas Friedman’s terms, a “flattening” of the global economic opportunity surface (Friedman 2005). Indeed, in many ways, urban economies are growing worldwide due to a powerful set of circumstances. As Friedman has pointed out, the lowering of political and trade barriers, emergence of the internet, and the evolution of corporate practices such as ‘outsourcing’, ‘off-shoring’, and ‘supply chaining’ have all acted to distribute economic opportunities broadly to cities across the globe, including many in the developing world. These impacts of globalization are indisputable.
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