By the same authors

Cumulative causation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary



Publication details

Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
DateAccepted/In press - 2019
DatePublished (current) - 29 Nov 2019
Number of pages4
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
EditorsA. Kobayashi
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-08-102296-2
ISBN (Print)978-0-08-102295-5


Cumulative causation arises when a process is self-reinforcing and grows ever stronger, so that it does not equilibrate. It will continue indefinitely unless it is checked by outside intervention or leads to a crisis and systemic breakdown. Ideas of cumulative causation have numerous applications in economics and other social sciences, investigated by authors such as Nicholas Kaldor, Gunnar Myrdal and Albert Hirschman. In human geography, cumulative processes have particular relevance for inequalities between rich and poor regions, implying that without intervention the gaps will widen. This article discusses the nature of cumulative causation, examines its general features, and assesses its geographical consequences at national and global levels.

    Research areas

  • cumulative causation, increasing returns, economies of scale, Matthew effect, unequal development, regional policies

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