Economic Geography Glossary



A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

- R -

Range (of a good or service) [see, however, "Spatial threshold"]

Usually used in the context of the "outer range" of a good. This range refers to the maximum distance over which a product can be sold at a given F.O.B. price.

Rationality (in behaviors and decisions)

See "bounded rationality" and Simon's rationality concepts

Reaction coefficient

Terms used as a relatively general reference to the manner in which a dependent subsystem is (structurally) linked to another subsystem within a larger systems model. The coefficient specifies the impact of a change in one variable (representing the independent subsystem) on another variable (representing the dependent subsystem). Input-output coefficients, "propensities to consume locally" (pcl) and probabilities in transition matrices represent examples.

Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).

A REIT is a trust (corporation) that pools the capital of different investors to acquire (or provide financing for) all forms of real estate. A REIT functions like a mutual fund for real estate.

Reflexivity (Economic reflexivity)

A post-structuralist concept increasingly used in industrial social geography (Storper, Barnes, Amin) to capture the ability of person to "reflect on their own reflections" and to understand the foundations of one's own knowledge and understanding of one's local environment and context.
Reference to the vastly expanded ability of economic agents to control their own destiny, resulting from revolutionary changes in production, information processing and communications: cheaper and more diverse materials, faster feedback, larger markets etc. "...refers to possibility for groups of actors in the various institutional spheres of modern capitalism -- firms, markets, governments, households and other collectivities -- to shape the course of economic evolution. They can do so because they can now reflect about the functioning of their environments in a way that is not limited by existing parameters, and where certain groups are explicitly wedded to shaking up such environments to their own advantage (innovation)." (Storper, 1997, p.29; Barnes, 1999, 13-4)


Contiguous areas with common or complementary characteristics or linked by intensive interaction or flows.
E.L.Ullman: Regions are merely working tools to achieve some end related to spatial analysis. Main problem relates to getting the maximum size area which does not average out significant differences.
M.D.Thomas: A region is an intellectual concept devised to facilitate a better understanding of the significance of the areal aspects of the distribution of physical, biotic and societal phenomena.
W.Isard: A region may be both, a concept and a concrete reality.

Many geographers distinguish between "uniform" (homogeneous) and "functional" (specifically "nodal") regions and thereby focus on the difference between the regionalization of distributional/ areal differentiation phenomena or that of facets of interdependence and interaction.

  1. A uniform region is simply defined by the presence of one or more criteria (single and multi-criteria uniform regions)
  2. A functional or nodal region is defined by the functional relations which connect different parts of the region.
More! [Hoover (1985)]

Regional coefficient (as different from the "technical" coefficient)

In regional input-output analysis, this coefficient identifies that part of the technical coefficient which is associated with purchases from firms located within the region. See "technical coefficient"

Regional Economics [Edgar Hoover]

"Regional income multiplier"

[Goodall, p.314; and lecture notes; also: "multiplier"]

Regional Science

Regulation school/ - theory

A body of thought originating in French political economy focusing on structure and change of the capitalist economy. Rejecting market forces as allocative mechanisms, these theories suggest the dominance of the "mode of regulation" (social norms, government rules and private practices) which motivate(s) individuals to achieve economic stability. [see Johnston (1994), p.518]

Reilly's law of retail gravitation

A statement related to the distribution of market share in hinterlands of competing cities or shopping centers.

Relative location

A position in space (=location) defined on the basis of distances and relationships to other locations.


the ability of a statistical instrument to come up with similar/consistent measurements/results over time. [See also: Validity]


A residual or surplus accruing to a factor of production. In practical terms, it is often referred to as the price paid to the owner of the factor for its use. In economic geography (usually): a surplus accruing to land; resulting from some advantage, e.g. from a locational advantage. (see Thunen)
Ricardo, Ch.2 "On Rent"]

Rent gap theory (Neil Smith)

Rent Gradient

A representation of the decline in rent with distance from a market or center.

Rent gradients (Thunen) [gif-graph from Hoover (Online 1985)]

R & D

Research and development

Returns to scale

Explanation || graphs

Ricardo, David. [April 18, 1772 - September 11, 1823] | See also here!

perhaps best known for his book on: The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation [1817 (third edition 1821)], and his contributions to
  1. Theory of Rent (Ch.2, "On Rent") [Ricardian theory of rent explains rent in terms of fertility differences]
    Rent is that portion of the produce of the earth, which is paid to the landlord for the use of the original and indestructible powers of the soil. It is often, however, confounded with the interest and profit of capital, and, in popular language, the term is applied to whatever is annually paid by a farmer to his landlord.

    The most fertile, and most favorably situated, land will be first cultivated, and the exchangeable value of its produce will be adjusted in the same manner as the exchangeable value of all other commodities, by the total quantity of labour necessary in various forms, from first to last, to produce it, and bring it to market. When land of an inferior quality is taken into cultivation, the exchangeable value of raw produce will rise, because more labour is required to produce it.

  2. Theory of International Trade [Ricardo, Ch.7 "On Foreign Trade"] ("comparative advantage")
    If Portugal had no commercial connexion with other countries, instead of employing a great part of her capital and industry in the production of wines, with which she purchases for her own use the cloth and hardware of other countries, she would be obliged to devote a part of that capital to the manufacture of those commodities, which she would thus obtain probably inferior in quality as well as quantity.

    The quantity of wine which she shall give in exchange for the cloth of England, is not determined by the respective quantities of labour devoted to the production of each, as it would be, if both commodities were manufactured in England, or both in Portugal.

    England may be so circumstanced, that to produce the cloth may require the labour of 100 men for one year; and if she attempted to make the wine, it might require the labour of 120 men for the same time. England would therefore find it her interest to import wine, and to purchase it by the exportation of cloth.

    To produce the wine in Portugal, might require only the labour of 80 men for one year, and to produce the cloth in the same country, might require the labour of 90 men for the same time. It would therefore be advantageous for her to export wine in exchange for cloth. This exchange might even take place, notwithstanding that the commodity imported by Portugal could be produced there with less labour than in England. Though she could make the cloth with the labour of 90 men, she would import it from a country where it required the labour of 100 men to produce it, because it would be advantageous to her rather to employ her capital in the production of wine, for which she would obtain more cloth from England, than she could produce by diverting a portion of her capital from the cultivation of vines to the manufacture of cloth.

    Thus England would give the produce of the labour of 100 men, for the produce of the labour of 80. Such an exchange could not take place between the individuals of the same country. The labour of 100 Englishmen cannot be given for that of 80 Englishmen, but the produce of the labour of 100 Englishmen may be given for the produce of the labour of 80 Portuguese, 60 Russians, or 120 East Indians. The difference in this respect, between a single country and many, is easily accounted for, by considering the difficulty with which capital moves from one country to another, to seek a more profitable employment, and the activity with which it invariably passes from one province to another in the same country.(20*)

    It would undoubtedly be advantageous to the capitalists of England, and to the consumers in both countries, that under such circumstances, the wine and the cloth should both be made in Portugal, and therefore that the capital and labour of England employed in making cloth, should be removed to Portugal for that purpose. In that case, the relative value of these commodities would be regulated by the same principle, as if one were the produce of Yorkshire, and the other of London: and in every other case, if capital freely flowed towards those countries where it could be most profitably employed, there could be no difference in the rate of profit, and no other difference in the real or labour price of commodities, than the additional quantity of labour required to convey them to the various markets where they were to be sold.


Regional Industrial Multiplier System. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) developed this system for estimating re- gional input-output multipliers.

Ringi-sei (jp) = bottom-up group decision-making process


Generally defined as the cost/expected value of an unfavorable outcome in decision situation where the probabilities are known. Thus, risk is used to describe the costs associated with the inability to predict exactly, even if you have (what you think are) "precise" probabilities, since any probability that you can expect a favorable outcome up to 99.9..% leaves the (possibly very small) chance that it does not come about.

(decisions or activities): General term for all regular and predictable behavioral patterns of firms. "We use the term to include characteristics of firms that range from well-specified technical routines for producing things, through procedures for hiring and firing, ordering new inventory, or stepping up production of items in high demand to l~policies regarding investment, R&D or advertising, and business strategies about product diversification and overseas investment. In our evolutionary theory, these routines play the role that genes play in biological evolutionary theory. " (Nelson an Winter, p.14)

"Roundabout Production"

A concept ("Produktions-Umwege") devised by the Austrian economist, Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk (1851-1914), to refer to the capitalist production process whereby (more and more) capital goods are produced to facilitate the production of ultimate consumer goods. More recently Walter Hoffmann undertook extensive empirical studies to support the notion of an increasing ratio of value added in capital goods industries to the value added in consumer-goods industries. (Walter Hoffmann, The Growth of Industrial Economies, 1958)

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Return to Econ & Bus Geog || Glossaries
2002 []