Chapter 63 Spatial distribution of economic activities in North America

Thomas J. Holmes, John J. Stevens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

85 Scopus citations


In this chapter we discuss the data sources and methods available for studying the spatial distribution of economic activity in North America. We document facts about the specialization of states and regions, as well as locations differentiated by their degree of urbanization. We also report characteristics of the industries in which locations specialize. For example, establishment size and materials intensity are shown to vary in systematic ways with regional specialization. With these facts as a backdrop, we begin to consider the question, Why do locations specialize as they do?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCities and Geography
Number of pages47
ISBN (Print)9780444509673
StatePublished - 2004

Publication series

NameHandbook of Regional and Urban Economics
ISSN (Print)1574-0080

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Holmes acknowledges support from the NSF through grant SES 0136842. The authors thank Edward Glaeser, Vernon Henderson, and Jacques-François Thisse for helpful comments. They also thank Alice Schoonbroodt and Brian Rowe for research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, or the Federal Reserve System.


  • L11
  • R12
  • R30
  • establishment size
  • geographic concentration
  • regional specialization
  • spatial distribution


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