Economic geography

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The economic geography , also economic geography , as a socio-scientific sub-area of geography records, describes and explains economic areas of the earth's surface according to their economic structures, as well as the processes and functions that generate them. For this purpose, spatial networks of different scales are examined. The perspective can focus on businesses and companies, on regional / economic aspects or on a mediating “meso level”. The interaction of the working people with their natural environment is of particular interest.


The classic division of economic geography followed the three economic sectors:

Traditionally, traffic geography is also often included in economic geography.

Other traditional classifications are based on the tasks of economic geography:

  • Theory (explanation),
  • Empiricism (description, measurement),
  • Politics (design recommendations for social actors).


For a long time, economic geographic theories were divided into:


Some traditional theoretical approaches are:

  • the spatial management approach (e.g. Ludwig Schätzl): in this approach the main categories of the analysis are “structure” (spatial distribution at a given point in time), interaction (interaction or migration of production factors and goods), process (the change in the former over time ); an essential characteristic is the inclusion of neoclassical theoretical elements;
  • the behavioral approach: the main thesis is that entrepreneurs also have other than purely economic goals and only limited information and are therefore often satisfied with “suboptimal” results;
  • the functional approach: the subject is interdependencies between objects and spaces or group-specific action spaces;
  • the welfare approach: the subject is social goals and the possibilities to achieve them.

In addition to the traditional approaches, which still have their justification for numerous research questions , newer geographical approaches have also come to the fore, which are referred to as "New Economic Geography" (mainly based on Anglo-Saxon authors); The main features are the communication of the economic "reality" through culture and the social system ( cultural turn , social turn ) and the consideration of the involvement of the actors in their environment ( embeddedness ). The approach of “relational economic geography” (Bathelt / Glückler) emphasizes relationality and the elements of organization, evolution, innovation and interaction.

From economics , the approach of Geographical Economics or New Economic Geography ( Paul Krugman ), which is important for economic geography , developed : The starting point is the observation that, contrary to the neoclassical models, there is a spatial dimension of the economy (agglomeration, regional inequalities). Central terms are economies of scale, external effects, imperfect markets and transport costs.


The methods used by economic geographers include, for example

Research topics

Some examples of current research topics:

  • A particularly topical issue for economic geographers is the connection between globalization and localization.
  • The focus is on upgrading / learning effects as well as new dependencies on locations and regional production systems.
  • The sectors can include the extraction of raw materials (e.g. the food industry), the manufacturing and processing industries (e.g. the automotive industry, electronics industry) and the service industry (particularly high-quality services).
  • The effects on the world of work (labor geography) also form part of economic geography.
  • Further areas are start-up research, clusters, logistics and the like. a. m.

See also


  • Klaus Peter Arnold : Economic Geography . Hirt, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-443-03102-1 .
  • Harald Bathelt & Johannes Glückler: Economic Geography. 3rd completely revised edition. Stuttgart 2012.
  • Harald Bathelt , Johannes Glückler : Economic Geography (=  UTB 8217 ). 2nd Edition. Ulmer, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-8252-8217-1 .
  • Boris Braun, Christian Schulz: Economic Geography (=  UTB 3641 ). Ulmer, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-8001-2881-5 .
  • Elmar Kulke : Economic Geography (=  UTB 2434 ). Schöningh, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 3-8252-2434-1 .
  • Giovanni Danielli among others: economic geography and globalized living space. Compendio Verlag, Zurich 2007, ISBN 978-3-7155-9367-8 .
  • Martina Fuchs, Bärbel Leupolt, Javier Diez, Eike Schamp: Economic geographers - their training, their competence and their market . In: Geography circular . No. 179 , p. 6-8 .
  • Ludwig Schätzl : Economic Geography I, Theory (=  UTB 782 ). 9th edition. Schöningh, Paderborn 2003, ISBN 3-8252-0782-X .
  • Ludwig Schätzl: Economic Geography II, Empiricism (=  UTB 1052 ). Schöningh, Paderborn 2000, ISBN 3-8252-1052-9 .
  • Ludwig Schätzl: Economic Geography III, Politics (=  UTB 1383 ). 3. Edition. Schöningh, Paderborn 1994, ISBN 3-8252-1383-8 .
  • Horst-Günter Wagner: Economic Geography (=  The Geographical Seminar ). 3. Edition. Westermann, Braunschweig 1998, ISBN 3-14-160296-4 .
  • Alfred Weber : About the location of industry. Pure theory of the location . 1909.
  • August Lösch : The spatial order of the economy. A study of location, economic areas and international trade . Fischer, Jena 1940.
  • Man and space, economic geography . 1st edition. Cornelsen, Berlin, ISBN 3-464-08187-7 .
  • Harald Bathelt: Interview with Harald Bathelt about the relational approach . ( Go to the interview ).

Web links