Economic base theory and applied geography

  • Lay James Gibson
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL, volume 77)


Economic base theory belongs to both economics and geography. The theory per se belongs to economics but it is geographers who have brought it to life by tieing it to real places and their economic landscapes. This paper identifies seven economic development problems commonly faced by development practitioners and illustrates how “best practice” solutions can be drawn from economic base studies. A number of studies are used to illustrate problems and approaches but two are featured; one is a regional economic base study that looks at both a large rural region and at five individual communities within the region. The other is a study of a single community that was initially completed in 1974 and replicated three times between 1974 and 1995.


Transfer Payment Economic Base Retirement Income Applied Geography Engine Industry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, J.W. (1953) An economic base study of Madison, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Commerce Papers, Volume I, No. 4 (Madison, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin).Google Scholar
  2. Andrews, R. (1953) Mechanics of the urban economic base: historical development of the base concept, Land Economics, 29, pp. 161–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailly, A. (1975) L’organisation urbaine, thories et modSles (Paris, Centre de Recherche d’urbanisme).Google Scholar
  4. Blumenfeld, H. (1955) The economic base of the metropolis: critical remarks on the “basicnonbasic” concept in: P.D. Spreiregen (ed.), The modern metropolis, its origins, growth, characteristics, and planning, selected essays by Hans Blumenfeld, pp. 331–368 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, The M.I.T. Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  5. Blumentahl, D., Gluck, M., Seashore Louis, K. and Wise, D. (1986) Industrial support of university research in biotechnology, Science, 231, pp. 242–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blumenthal, D., Epstein, S. and Maxwell, J. (1986) Commercializing university research, lessons from the experience of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, The New England Journal of Medicine, 314, pp. 1621–1626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Claval, P. (1968) La thorie des valles, Revne gographique de l’Est, VIII, pp. 3–56.Google Scholar
  8. Gibson, L.J. (1987) Restructuring the landscape, Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, 50, pp. 7–20.Google Scholar
  9. Gibson, L.J. (1993) The potential for tourism development in nonmetropolitan areas in: D.L. Barkley (Ed.) Economic Adaption: Alternatives for Nonmetropolitan Areas, pp. 145–64 (Boulder, CO, Westview Press).Google Scholar
  10. Gibson, L.J., Barr, J.L. & O’Keefe, T.B. (1975) Measuring the community economic base: a comparative analysis, American Industrial Development Council Journal, 10, pp. 7–35.Google Scholar
  11. Gibson, L.J., & Evans, B. (2002) Regional dependence on tourism: The significance of seasonality, Yearbook of The Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, 64, pp. 112–127.Google Scholar
  12. Gibson, L.J. & Glenn, E. (1999) The round valley region economic base study: A generic case study of three hypothetical communities, Economic Development Review 16, pp. 53–62.Google Scholar
  13. Gibson, L.J. & Reeves, R.W. (1974) The roles of hinterland composition, externalities, and variable spacing as determinants of economic structure in small towns, The Professional Geographer, 26, pp. 152–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gibson, L.J. & Worden, M.A. (1981a) Estimating the economic base multiplier: a test of alternative procedures, Economic Geography, 57, pp. 146–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gibson, L.J. & Worden, M.A. (1981b) A university-based delivery system for applied geographic research, Proceedings of Applied Geography Conferences, 4 pp. 11–16.Google Scholar
  16. Gibson, L.J. & Worden, M.A. (1984) A citizen’s handbook for evaluating community impacts: an experiment in community education, Journal of the Community Development Society, 15, pp. 27–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mulligan, G.F. (1987) Employment multipliers and functional types of communities: effects of public transfer payments, Growth and Change, 18, pp. 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mulligan, G.F. (1988) A general model for estimating economic base multipliers, The Australian Journal of Regional Studies, 3, pp. 52–68.Google Scholar
  19. Mulligan, G.F. (1994) Multiplier effects and structural change: applying economic base analysis to small economies, Review of Urban and Regional Development Studies, 6, pp. 78–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mulligan, G.F. & Fik, T. (1994) Using dummy variables to estimate economic base multipliers, Professional Geographer, 46, pp. 368–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mulligan, G.F. & Gibson, L.J. (1984a) A note on sectoral multipliers in small communities, Growth and Change, 15, pp. 3–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mulligan, G.F. & Gibson, L.J. (1984b) Regression estimates of economic base multipliers for small communities, Economic Geography, 60, pp. 225–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mulligan, G.F. & Kim, H.H. (1991) Sectoral-level employment multipliers in small urban settlements: a comparison of five models, Urban Geography, 12, pp. 240–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Porter, M.E. (1990) The Competitive Advantage of Nations (New York, The Free Press).Google Scholar
  25. Porter, M.E. (1998a) Clusters and the New Economics of Competition, Harvard Business Review, pp. 77–90.Google Scholar
  26. Porter, M.E. (1998b) On Competition (Boston, Harvard Business School Publishing).Google Scholar
  27. Porter, M.E. (2000) Location, Competition, and Economic Development: Local Clusters in a Global Economy, Economic Development Quarterly, 14, pp. 15–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Reeves, R.W. & Gibson, L.J. (1974) Town size and functional complexity in a disrupted landscape, Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, 36, pp. 71–84.Google Scholar
  29. Richardson, H.W. (1985) Input-output and economic base multipliers: looking backward and forward, Journal of Regional Science, 25, pp. 607–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Roderique, D.B. (1986) Private sector economic impacts and community responses to large scale energy development. Unpublished MA Thesis. Tucson, AZ, University of Arizona, Department of Geography and Regional Development.Google Scholar
  31. Rusden, S.A. (1988) Management of the community economic base as a strategy for economic development. Unpublished MA Thesis. Tucson, AZ, University of Arizona, Department of Geography and Regional Development.Google Scholar
  32. Smilor, R.W., Dietrich, G.B., and Gibson, D.V. (1993) The entrepreneurial university: The role of higher education in the United States in technology commercialization and economic development, UNESCO, pp. 1–11.Google Scholar
  33. Sombart, W. (1907) Der Begriff der Stadt und das wesen der st,,dtbildung Archives für sozialurssenschaften und sozial politik, 25 (Berlin).Google Scholar
  34. Tiebout, C.M. (1962) The Community Economic Base Study (New York, Committee for Economic Development).Google Scholar
  35. Vias, A.C. (1995) Specification of economic base multipliers for small Arizona communities. Unpublished MA Thesis. Tucson, AZ, University of Arizona, Department of Geography and Regional Development.Google Scholar
  36. Vias, A.C. & Mulligan, G.F. (1997) Disaggregating economic base multipliers in Arizona communities, Environment and Planning A, 29, pp. 955–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vias, A. (1996) The Arizona community data set: A long-term project for education and research in economic geography, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 20, pp. 243–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vierck, S.L. (1983) Regional impacts of substantial reduction in basic employment: economic and demographic impacts of the 1974–75 mine closures on Bisbee, Arizona. Unpublished MA Thesis. Tucson, AZ, University of Arizona, Department of Geography and Regional Development.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lay James Gibson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Regional Development and Economic Development Research ProgramThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations