The spatial concentration of Swedish manufacturing industries between 1920 and 1950 – an analysis of innovativeness and clustering

University essay from Lunds universitet/Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen

Abstract: This thesis looks into the spatial concentration of Swedish manufacturing industries between 1920 and 1950, particularly focusing on whether the tendency to do so was more prominent among innovative industries then their less innovative counterparts. The spatial concentration of the most, the average and the least innovative industries in Sweden at the time is presented and the findings are compared to cluster theories that emerged later on. Several economists have over the last decades claimed that innovative industries benefit more from clustering as proximity enhances the ability of economic activities to exchange ideas and be cognizant of important incipient knowledge. The scope of the thesis is to find out whether this pattern was prevailing at a time when scientific knowledge was starting to become an important part of the industry. The findings points to an industrial de-agglomeration phase taking place at the time, and give no evidence to the idea that innovative industries clustered more than other industries. There appear to have been a spread-out phase taking place which largely meant that industries located in many new areas – particularly cities. This development can largely be ascribed to the rapid overall industrial and urban growth taking place in Sweden between 1920 and 1950 – not only did many industries locate in the new and growing cities, cities grew around the locations of new industries as well. De-agglomerating factors such as cheap labor and land in peripheral areas and a limited number of local markets that was able to support the economies of agglomeration appears to have been contributing to this development.

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