Journal of Statistical Physics

, Volume 151, Issue 3–4, pp 475–493 | Cite as

Sustainable Development and Spatial Inhomogeneities

  • Gérard WeisbuchEmail author


Historical data, theory and computer simulations support a connection between growth and economic inequality. Our present world with large regional differences in economic activity is a result of fast economic growth during the last two centuries. Because of limits to growth we might expect a future world to develop differently with far less growth. The question that we here address is: “Would a world with a sustainable economy be less unequal?” We then develop integrated spatial economic models based on limited resources consumption and technical knowledge accumulation and study them by the way of computer simulations. When the only coupling between world regions is diffusion we do not observe any spatial unequality. By contrast, highly localized economic activities are maintained by global market mechanisms. Structures sizes are determined by transportation costs. Wide distributions of capital and production are also predicted in this regime.


Patterns Environment Economics Distributions Integrated assessment Energy 



We thank Markus Brede, Adrian Carro, Bernard Derrida, Roger Guesnerie, Alan Kirman, Yoram Louzoun, Hubertus de Vries and Bin Xu for helpful discussions and suggestions. We thank referees for raising interesting and important issues.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physique Statistique de l’Ecole Normale SupérieureEnvironmental Research and Teaching InstituteParis Cedex 5France

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