Regional science

Regional science

Regional science is a field of the social sciences concerned with analytical approaches to problems that are specifically urban, rural, or regional. Topics in regional science include, but are not limited to location theory or spatial economics, location modeling, transportation, migration analysis, land use and urban development, interindustry analysis, environmental and ecological analysis, resource management, urban and regional policy analysis, geographical information systems, and spatial data analysis. In the broadest sense, any social science analysis that has a spatial dimension is embraced by regional scientists. For more material on the foci of regional science, see, for example, the [ "Web Book of Regional Science."]


Regional science was founded in the late 1940s when some economists began to become dissatisfied with the low level of regional economic analysis and felt an urge to upgrade it. But even in this early era, the founders of regional science expected to catch the interest of people from a wide variety of disciplines. Regional science's formal roots date to the aggressive campaigns by Walter Isard and his supporters to promote the "objective" and "scientific" analysis of settlement, industrial location, and urban development. Isard targeted key universities and campaigned tirelessly. Accordingly, the Regional Science Association was founded in 1954, when the core group of scholars and practitioners held its first meetings independent from those initially held as sessions of the annual meetings of the American Economics Association. [Isard, Walter. 1975. "Introduction to Regional Science." New York: Prentice Hall.] A reason for meeting independently undoubtedly was the group's desire to extend the new science beyond the rather restrictive world of economists and have natural scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, lawyers, sociologists, political scientists, planners, and geographers join the club. [Ibid, p. 6.] Now called the Regional Science Association International, it maintains subnational and international associations, journals, and a conference circuit (notably in North America, continental Europe, Japan, and Korea). Membership in the RSAI continues to grow.

eminal publications

Topically speaking, regional science took off in the wake of Walter Christaller's book "Die Zentralen Orte in Sűddeutschland" (published in 1933), soon followed by Tord Palander's (1935) "Beiträge zur Standortstheorie"; and Edgar M. Hoover's two books--"Location Theory and the Shoe and Leather Industry" (1938) and "The Location of Economic Activity" (1948). Other important early publications include: Edward H. Chamberlin's (1950) "The Theory of Monopolistic Competition" ; François Perroux's (1950) "Economic Spaces: Theory and Application"; Torsten Hägerstrand's (1953) "Innovationsförloppet ur Korologisk Synpunkt"; Edgar S. Dunn's (1954)"The Location of Agricultural Production" ; August Lösch's (1954)"The Economics of Location" ; Martin J. Beckmann, C.B McGuire, and Clifford B. Winston's (1956) "Studies in the Economics of Transportation"; Melvin L. Greenhut's (1956) "Plant Location in Theory and Practice"; Gunnar Myrdal's (1957) "Economic Theory and Underdeveloped Regions"; Albert O. Hirschman's (1958) "The Strategy of Economic Development"; and Claude Ponsard's (1958) "Histoire des Théorie Économique Spatiales". Nonetheless, Walter Isard's first book in 1956, "Location and Space Economy", apparently captured the imagination of many, and his third, "Methods of Regional Analysis", published in 1960, only sealed his position as the father of the field.

As is typically the case, the above works were built on the shoulders of giants. Much of this predecessor work is documented well in Walter Isard's "Location and Space Economy" [ Isard, Walter. 1956. "Location and Space-Economy: A General Theory Relating to Industrial Location, Market Areas, Land Use, Trade and Urban Structure" Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.] as well as Claude Ponsard's "Histoire des Théorie Économique Spatiales". [Ponsard, Claude. 1958. "Histoire des Théorie Économique Spatiales". Pris: Libraie Armond Colin (Translated in 1983 by Benjamin H. Stevens, Margaret Chevallier and Joaquin P. Pujol as "History of Spatial Economic Theory". Springer-Verlag: New York.)] Particularly important was the contribution by 19th century German economists to location theory. The early German hegemony more or less starts with Johann Heinrich von Thünen and runs through both Wilhelm Launhardt and Alfred Weber to Walter Christaller and August Lösch.

Core journals

If an academic discipline is identified by its journals, then technically regional science began in 1955 with the publication of the first volume of the "Papers and Proceedings, Regional Science Association" (now "Papers in Regional Science" published by Springer Verlag). In 1958, the "Journal of Regional Science" followed.

Academic programs

Walter Isard's efforts culminated in the creation of a few academic departments and several university-wide programs in regional science. At Walter Isard's suggestion, the University of Pennsylvania started the Regional Science Department in 1956. It featured as its first graduate William Alonso and was looked upon by many to be the international academic leader for the field. The core curricumlum of this department was microeconomics, input-output analysis, location theory, and statistics. Faculty also taught courses in mathematical programming, transportation economics, labor economics, energy and ecological policy modeling, spatial statistics, spatial interaction theory and models, benefit/cost analysis, urban and regional analysis, and economic development theory, among others. But the department's unusual multidisciplinary orientation undoubtedly encouraged its demise, and it lost its department status in 1993. [Boyce, David. 2004. "A Short History of the field of Regional Science," "Papers in Regional Science," 83, 31-57. The source for a few dates in this paragraph.]

With a few exceptions, such as Cornell University, which awards graduate degrees in Regional Science, [ [ Cornell's Graduate Programs in Regional Science] ] most practitioners hold positions in departments such as economics, geography, civil engineering, agricultural economics, rural sociology, urban planning, public policy, or demography. The diversity of disciplines participating in regional science have helped make it one of the most interesting and fruitful fields of academic specialization, but it has also made it difficult to fit the many perspectives into a curriculum for an academic major. It is even difficult for authors to write regional science textbooks, since what is elementary knowledge for one discipline might be entirely novel for another. [Scott Loveridge discusses the pros and cons of a multidisciplinary field. [ link] ]

Public policy impact

Part of the movement was, and continues to be, associated with the political and economic realities of the role of the local community. On any occasion where public policy is directed at the sub-national level, such as a city or group of counties, the methods of regional science can prove useful. Traditionally, regional science has provided policy makers with guidance on issues such as: [Classical regional science questions. [ link] ] :*The "determinants of industrial location (both within the nation and within the region)." :*The "regional economic impact of the arrival or departure of a firm.":*The "determinants of internal migration patterns and land use change.":*"Regional specialization and exchange.":*"Environmental impacts of social and economic change.":*"Geographic association of economic and social conditions."

By targeting federal resources to specific geographic areas the Kennedy administration realized that political favors could be bought. This is also evident in Europe and other places where local economic areas do not coincide with political boundaries. In the more current era of devolution knowledge about "local solutions to local problems" has driven much of the interest in regional science. Thus, there has been much political impetus to the growth of the discipline.

Developments after 1980

Regional Science has enjoyed mixed fortunes since the 1980s. While it has gained a larger following among economists and public policy practitioners, the discipline has fallen out of favor among more radical and Post-Modernist geographers.

New economic geography

In 1991, Paul Krugman, a highly regarded international trade theorist, put out a call for economists to pay more attention to economic geography in a book entitled "Geography and Trade", focussing largely on the core regional science concept of agglomeration economies. Krugman's call renewed interest by economists in regional science and, perhaps more importantly, founded what some term "the new economic geography," which enjoys much common ground with regional science. Broadly-trained "new" economic geographers combine quantitative work with other research techniques, for example at the London School of Economics. The unification of Europe and the increased internationalization of the world's economic, social, and political realms has further induced interest in the study of regional, as opposed to national, phenomena.


Today there are dwindling numbers of regional scientists from academic planning programs and mainstream geography departments. Attacks on regional science's practitioners by radical critics began as early as the 1970s, notably David Harvey who believed it lacked social and political commitment. Such debates became strong and heated, as exemplified by some arguments by Trevor Barnes who suggests that the decline of regional science practice among planners and geographers in North America could have been avoided. He says "It is unreflective, and consequently inured to change, because of a commitment to a God’s eye view. It is so convinced of its own rightness, of its Archimedean position, that it remained aloof and invariant, rather than being sensitive to its changing local context." [Barnes in "Canadian J of Reg. Sci". [ 1] ]

See also

* Regional development
* Economic geography


Further reading

* Boyce, David. (2004). "A Short History of the Field of Regional Science." "Papers in Regional Science.", 83 pp. 31-57. []
* Duranton, Gilles (2008). "spatial economics," "The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics", 2nd Edition. [ Abstract.]
* Krumm, Ronald J., and George S. Tolley (1987). "", v. 4, pp. 116-20.
* Sachs, Jeffrey D., and Gordon McCord (2008). "regional development, geography of," "The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics", 2nd Edition. [ Abstract.]
*Scott, A. J. (2000)." Economic Geography: The Great Half-Century," "Cambridge Journal of Economics", 24, pp.-504

External links


* [ Regional Science Association International]
* [ North American Regional Science Council]
* [ Mid-Continent Regional Science Association]
* [ Southern Regional Science Association]
* [ Western Regional Science Association]
* [ European Regional Science Association]
* [ Pacific Regional Science Conference Organization]
* [ The Australia New Zealand Regional Science Association International Inc (ANZRSAI Inc)]


* [,1:100498,1 The Annals of Regional Science]
* [ Growth and Change: A Journal of Urban and Regional Policy]
* [ The Industrial Geographer]
* [ International Regional Science Review]
* [ Investigaciones Regionales (en español)]
* [ Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy]
* [ Journal of Regional Science]
* [ Journal of Urban Economics]
* [ Papers in Regional Science]
* [ Regional Science and Urban Economics]
* [ The Review of Regional Studies]
* [ Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies]
* [ Canadian Journal of Regional Science]


* [ Critical research articles and the history of the field, by Trevor Barnes, UBC]
* [ "Web Book of Regional Science"] .
* [ The Use of Agent-Based Models in Regional Science]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Regional Science High School Union — (RSHS Union) is a specialized system of public secondary schools in the Philippines, established during the 1994 1995 school year. It is operated and supervised by the Department of Education, with a curriculum heavily focusing on math and… …   Wikipedia

  • Regional Science High School for Region 12 — Regional Science High School Region XII, formerly known as Alabel National Science High School, first opened in the Philippines in 2006. The original number of students during its first year of opening was 40.External links*… …   Wikipedia

  • Regional Science High School for Region 3 — is a public secondary high school located at East Kalayaan, Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Olongapo …   Wikipedia

  • Regional Science Association — The Regional Science Association is a cluster of scholarly societies whose members engage in regional science. OriginsIn the late 1940s and the early 1950s, the economist Walter Isard worked to draw together a group of academics interested in… …   Wikipedia

  • Regional Science High School for Region VI — Infobox Secondary school name = Regional Science High School for Region VI other name = (formerly Science Development National High School) image size = founder = Dr. Constancio Constantino other names = (formerly Science Development National… …   Wikipedia

  • Regional Science High School for Region 1 — RSHS 1 Alumni,notably called SCIons , rooted from the words Scio latin word which means science, knowledge and to know; ions which implies their importance to society; and the word itself scion which denotes descendant of Galileo Galilei, the… …   Wikipedia

  • Regional Science High School campuses — This is a list of Regional Science High Schools in the Philippines …   Wikipedia

  • Regional Science High School for Region 2 — Cagayan Valley Regional Science High School (RSHS Region 2) is located at Annafunan, Tumauini, Isabela. It is among the top performing schools in the Cagayan Valley Region. Its present principal I is Mr. Fabio Macalling Jr …   Wikipedia

  • Cordillera Regional Science High School — Location Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet Information Type Public Principal Ma am Soraya Faculo Faculty 16 teaching 4 non teaching Number of stu …   Wikipedia

  • Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair — The Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair (PRSEF) is the third oldest science fair in the United States. It celebrated its 69th year of open competition of research projects in the fields of science, engineering and mathematics on… …   Wikipedia