Most Roads Lead to Rome, But Some Roads Lead to Lab City: Spatially Differentiated Paths to Economic


Genesis Boardroom, Suite 3002, Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, St. John’s Campus.
12:00-1:30pm, Thursday, March 16, 2017.

Economists remain focused on understanding economic growth, but the current approach relies on rigorous mathematical models that impose rigid assumptions about prices and markets in order to have solutions. These models are defined at national levels and rely on theories from macroeconomics and international trade for their underlying structure. Consequently, they fail to address regional differences in economic performance, which can be larger within a country than are differences among countries. Since empirical evidence shows that regions of widely varying size and function can all exhibit economic growth, it seems sensible to look for some broader approaches to understanding the pathways to growth that are appropriate for different types of region. Ironically, most of these can be found in older economic studies that did not constrain their approach to fit into modern mathematical models.

Seven different growth drivers can be readily identified, some of which are most applicable to urban agglomerations while others are more appropriate in rural regions. Successful regions can be seen as having different mixes of drivers that fit their specific circumstances. This suggests that while it is not an easy task to bring about economic growth in any region, it is not the case that only large metropolitan regions can grow.

David Freshwater is a professor at the University of Kentucky, with appointments in the Department of Agricultural Economics and in the Martin School of Public Administration and Public Policy. He is also an adjunct professor in the Geography Department of Memorial University in Newfoundland. During 2009 he was Head of the Rural Policy Programme at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. There he coordinated the work of a unit that conducts rural policy reviews for member and nonmember countries and provides analysis of cross-national trends in rural policy and conditions. His main research areas are rural and agricultural policy in North America and Europe. His academic research focuses on: analysis of multifunctionality as a basis for agricultural policy, evaluation of the impacts of rural development policies, analysis of labor market conditions in rural areas, and the role of off-farm income in agriculture.

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