Economic activity is inextricably linked to the spatial distribution and location of economic agents and resources. Because producers, consumers, and firms are spread throughout space, the economic value of a commodity can be measured by its location in addition to its quality, technology, and age.
The relative distances and costs economic agents face when making business transactions, producing commodities, or obtaining intermediate inputs play a fundamental role in their rational decisions. Firms that require frequent physical interaction with consumers tend to locate near the demand in order to minimize their transportation costs. This can lead to clusters of firms. As suggested more than a century ago by Alfred Marshall, industrial agglomerations arise in the presence of thick markets where firms have easier access to productive factors and where the final output may be sold in relatively larger markets.
Technological change, however, has drastically reduced transportation and communication costs making it possible for firms to decentralize their activities in order to access the cheapest labor markets. Therefore, if economic distance can no longer be linked solely to geographic distance, what is the balance emerging between the spatial linkages leading to industrial agglomerations and the possibilities of production decentralization? The shifting balance creates challenges for regions that are now losing their initial “locational comparative advantages.” This fundamental question is why modern economists are incorporating increasingly important spatial dimensions into their models.
In the past, the application of techniques involving the analysis of space and location was confined to regional science, regional and urban economics, and economic geography. Today, increasingly diverse fields of empirical and theoretical investigation are incorporating spatial analysis and methods. International economics, labor and public economics, health economics, agricultural economics, and environmental economics are all examples of traditional topics that are taking advantage of spatial techniques and methods of analysis.
Moreover, spatial economics is not just increasingly important from an empirical point of view. A growing methodological literature is continuously being used and developed for different types of analysis. Geo-coded datasets are now widely available and allow for the development and utilization of these new techniques that account for the role geography plays in economics.
Spatial economics and regional science face questions about where, why, and how production processes, industrial agglomerations, output markets, and other economic activities can be analyzed. The discussion and advancement of these questions is the goal of this conference.
The 2010 SEA World Conference plans to explore empirical, theoretical and methodological themes, including:
- Economic growth and convergence
- Human capital
- Knowledge diffusion
- Agglomeration of economic activity
- Foreign direct investment
- Labor markets and migration
- Education and migration
- Environment and sustainability
- Externalities and spillovers
- Flows of goods, people and ideas
- Land use, real estate, and housing markets
- Exploratory spatial data analysis
- Spatial regression models
- GMM estimators for spatial models
- Spatial panel data models
- Continuous-time spatial econometrics
- Space-time aggregation
- Spatial and social network effects
- Spatial filtering