Dependency or Institutions? Economic Geography, Causal Mechanisms, and Logic in the Understanding of Development


DOI: 10.1007/s12116-007-9000-x

Cite this article as:
Schwartz, H. St Comp Int Dev (2007) 42: 115. doi:10.1007/s12116-007-9000-x


What explains the global distribution of growth and economic activity? Proponents of unit-level explanations dismiss systems-level arguments like dependency and world systems theory for logically incorrect reasons. They argue that these system-level arguments lack the precise mechanisms that various unit-level arguments provide. But the absence of precise system-level causal mechanisms in some system-level theories does not logically imply that all system-level theories are wrong. Economic geography provides system-level theories with precise mechanisms that comport with most of the economic predictions offered by dependency theories. This does not mean that unit-level theories are either wrong or useless, but rather that unit-level explanations must (1) claim that the new economic geography is totally wrong, or (2) show how system and unit-level mechanisms interact causally, or (3) argue that unit-level mechanisms are independent of system-level causal mechanisms.


Economic development Economic geography Causal mechanisms 

Copyright information

© Springer Science & Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Politics DepartmentUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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