Models to Know


Malthus - Malthusian Theory: In 1798, British economist Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principles of Population. In this essay, he predicted that world population would grow faster than world food supply, with food supply growing linearly and population growing exponentially. Malthus was ultimately proven incorrect. He did not foresee the importation of food, nor the exponential growth of food production due to mechanization, bioengineered seeds, fertilizers, etc. that have greatly increased yields. People and countries go hungry today due to the unequal distribution of food, but not due to an overall shortage of food.

Demographic Transition: Great Britain provides the model for the 4 stages in the Demographic Transition. Why countries move from one stage to another has varied over time. Model may not be applicable to all countries but seems to accompany economic development. Transition occurs between Stages 2 and 3, when death rates fall and then birth rates fall, leading to a transition from high population growth to low population growth.

  • Stage 1: High Birth Rate, High Death Rate with little overall population growth (many births but also many deaths due to such things as epidemics, plagues, famines, wars)
  • Stage 2: High Birth Rate, Declining Death Rate lead to population explosion (death rates decline due to increased food supply, better sanitation, modern medicine, vaccinations, etc.)
  • Stage 3: Declining BIrth Rate, Low Death Rate lead to continuing population increase (large families less desirable due to industrialization, more opportunities for women, delayed marriage and childbearing, lower infant mortality rates, availability of birth control, etc.)
  • Stage 4: Low Birth Rate, Low Death Rate lead to little overall population growth (birth rates lowest in countries where women are most educated and most involved in labor force)

Ravenstein - Laws of Migration: Over 100 years ago, British demographer Ernst Ravenstein studied internal migration in England and proposed 5 Laws of Migration:
  • Every migration flow generates a return or counter migration
  • The majority of migrants move a short distance
  • Migrants who move longer distances tend to choose big city destinations
  • Urban residents are less migratory than rural residents
  • Young adults are more likely to make international moves than families

Gravity Model: The Gravity Model as applied to geography, attempts to predict the amount of spatial interaction (movement of people, goods, ideas, etc.) between two locations. More populated places attract people, goods, ideas, etc. more than less populated places, and places that are closer together have more spatial interaction than places that are distant from each other. Therefore, according to the model, the "pull" between two locations can be calculated by multiplying the population of Location A by the population of Location B and then dividing the product by the distance between the two locations squared.


Sauer - Cultural Landscape: In 1927 Berkeley professor Carl Sauer wrote an article entitled "Recent Developments in Cultural Geography" in which he proposed that cultural landscapes are "the forms superimposed on the physical landscape" by human activity. Human geographers are especially interested in the cultural landscape - the visible imprint of human activity on the face of the Earth. How do we know that people, and certain kinds of people, have lived in certain places? Because of the cultural landscapes that they create. Cultural landscapes not only reflect the "style" of a group of people, but also their values.


Ratzel - Organic State Theory: In the 1800's, German professor Friedrich Ratzel proposed that the state (meaning country) is like a living breathing organism. It has a life span extending from birth until death, and to sustain itself (stay alive), it needs to acquire more territory and control more people. In the 1930's, Ratzel's theories were used to justify the territorial expansion of the Nazis.

MacKinder - Heartland Theory: In the early 1900s, British geographer Halford Mackinder published an article entitled "The Geographical Pivot of History". His contemporaries thought a sea-based power would rule the world but he thought a land-based power would rule the world. To Mackinder, the critical landmass (or pivot area) was resource rich Eurasia. Later he renamed this pivot area the "heartland". After World War II, MacKinder's ideas influenced the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance of the U.S., Canada and Western Europe designed to contain the Soviet Union.
  • Who rules Eastern Europe commands the Heartland
  • Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island
  • Who rules the World Island commands the World

Spykman - Rimland Theory: In 1942, Dutch geographer Nicholas Spykman proposed a theory which countered Mackinder's Heartland Theory. Spykman stated that Eurasia's Rimland, the coastal areas or buffer zone, is the key to controlling the World Island, not the heartland.

Wallerstein - World Systems Theory: Sociologist Emmanuel Wallerstein proposed 3 basic tenets of World Systems Theory:
  • The world economy has one market and a global division of labor
  • Although the world has multiple states (countries), almost everything takes place within the context of the world economy.
  • The world economy has a 3 tier structure: core, periphery and semi-periphery

The world economy is capitalist, based upon the exchange of goods and services for profit. To maximize profit, producers seek the cheapest labor, wherever it may be found. Producers commodify everything, i.e. make it into something that can be bought and sold ... new products, new versions of old products ... and promote sales through aggressive marketing and advertising. Colonialism set up a system in which countries may be politically independent but not economically independent. The core and periphery are not just places, but also what takes place in those places. Core countries have higher levels of education and technology and the economic activities that take place there generate more wealth (typically secondary and tertiary type activities). Periphery countries have lower levels of education and technology and the economic activities that take place there generate less wealth (typically primary type activities: farming, fishing, mining, ranching, etc.). The core uses the periphery to achieve its economic goals. The semi-periphery serves as a buffer between the core and periphery - countries that are developing economically but are not yet part of the core.



von Thunen - Agricultural Land Use Model: In the 1800s, Johann Heinrich von Thunen observed and mapped the pattern of agricultural land use in Germany. He noticed that each town (market center) was surrounded by rings within which certain crops or agricultural products were produced. von Thunen based his model upon three assumptions:
  • Terrain was flat
  • Soils and other environmental conditions were consistent
  • There were no barriers for transportation to market

Closest to town, farmers would produce very perishable goods such as dairy products and fresh produce. In his time, German towns were surrounded by a forest ring that was used to supply wood for building and fuel. In the next ring, less perishable and more bulky crops like wheat, corn and potatoes were grown. Furthest out, animals were raised.

von Thunen concluded that the rings were based on transportation costs. The goods that were most expensive to transport (and most perishable) would be produced closest to town (the market), and the goods that were least expensive to transport would be produced furthest from town.



Rostow - Ladder of Development or Modernization Model: Walt Rostow's model from the 1960's assumes that all countries follow a similar path to economic development. Major criticism of this model is that it provides no domestic or international context for development.
  • Stage 1: Traditional - Subsistence agriculture, most of labor force in primary sector, people not open to change
  • Stage 2: Preconditions for Take-off - Progressive leadership (government) leads people toward more flexibility, openness and economic diversification
  • Stage 3: Take-off - Country experiences something like an Industrial Revolution, urbanization, advances in technology and mass production, more people employed in secondary sector
  • Stage 4: Drive to Maturity - Technologies diffuse, specialization occurs, international trade expands, modernization evident, population growth slows, more people employed in secondary and tertiary sector
  • Stage 5: High Mass Consumption - High income, widespread production of goods and services, most of labor force in tertiary sector

Weber - Least Cost Theory: German geographer Alfred Weber developed a model for the location of manufacturing. He suggested that industries are located where owners can minimize transportation and labor costs and agglomerate (cluster with other similar or interdependent businesses). Transportation costs are most important, but one has to consider how each balances the other. For example, a site with higher transportation costs but cheaper labor might be the most profitable location overall.

Hotelling - Locational Interdependence Theory: Harold Hotelling suggested that the location of an industry can not be understood without considering the location of its competition. Ice cream vendors on a beach may maximize profits by locating right next to each other rather than at opposite ends of the beach. In that location, they are able to theoretically attract all potential ice cream customers.

Losch - Zone of Profitability - German economist August Losch suggested that industries will determine a zone in which to locate (not just a point) where income will be greater than costs.


Castells and Hall - Technopoles: Technopoles are areas purposely planned for high technology where agglomeration (clustering of similar industries) occurs. Examples of technopoles in the U.S. are Silicon Valley in California (home to Cisco, Adobe, HP, Intel, IBM, Netscape, etc.), the 128 Corridor outside Boston, MA (close to Harvard and MIT) and the Telecom Corridor of Plano-Richardson outside Dallas, TX. The location of technopoles is not related to raw materials or markets, but rather proximity to major transportation and communication networks. Globally, many technopoles are located on the edges of large cities near airports.


Bid-Rent Theory: the price and demand for real estate changes as the distance from the Central Business District (CBD) increases. Land users will complete with one another for land close to the CBD. The basis of this theory is the idea that the CBD offers the greatest accessibility to potential customers, thus the highest profit possibilities.

Borchert - Epochs or Stages of Evolution of American Metropolis


Christaller - Central Place Theory: In the 1930's German geographer Walter Christaller developed a model to predict how and where different sized settlements are distributed on the landscape which applies fairly well to Europe and North America. Christaller's assumptions:
  • A flat surface with no physical barriers
  • Uniform soil fertility
  • Population and purchasing power evenly distributed
  • A uniform transportation network to permit direct travel from one settlement to another
  • A good or service could be sold in all directions out to a certain distance

1. Settlements come in different sizes with different functions (hamlet, village, town, city, megacity) and their distribution on the landscape is NOT random.
2. There are more small settlements than large settlements. Large settlements are further apart than small settlements and have more functions and higher order functions (i.e. the U of M, state government offices, Metrodome, corporate headquarters are located in Minneapolis-St. Paul ...)
3. Each settlement has a trade area or hinterland within which it has a monopoly on the sale of certain goods because of the concept of range. (You wouldn't typically drive to Minneapolis for a gallon of milk, but you would for a concert.)
4. Threshold is the minimum number of people needed to support a good or service, range is the maximum distance people will travel for a good or service.
5. Christaller illustrated trade areas around central places with hexagons to avoid gaps.

North American City Models - All Reflect Changing Modes of Transportation - Low Income Residents Located Closer to CBD

Burgess - Concentric Zone Model: Ernest Burgess based his city model on 1920's Chicago. In this model, the industrial city grows out from the CBD in a ring pattern. Low income homes are closest to the CBD and high income homes are furthest from the CBD. The zone of transition is mixed use - some residential, some commercial.


Hoyt - Sector Model: Homer Hoyt's 1930's model (also based on Chicago) illustrates a city growing out from a central CBD along transportation corridors (at this time dominantly railroad, street car, etc.), with pie shaped sectors.

Harris and Ullman - Multiple Nuclei Model: Harris and Ullman's 1940's model (also based on Chicago) suggested that neither the concentric zones nor the sector model reflected city structure in the mid 1900's. In their model there is not a single nucleus but rather several nuclei with their own focal points. This model reflects the declining importance of the CBD in the automobile era and is a good fit for sprawling cities.


Urban Realms Model - The Urban Realms model was developed by James Vance in the 1960s based upon the growth and development of the San Francisco Bay area. This model suggests an urban area comprised of a series of independent suburban downtowns within a larger metropolitan area.


Urban Realms Model Also Known As Galactic City Model


LDC City Models - All Reflect Colonial Influences - Low Income Residents Located Furthest From CBD

Griffin-Ford - Latin American City - Developed in 1980 by geographers Ernest Griffin and Larry Ford and updated in 1996 by Ford. Common urban features in Latin American cities include a CBD featuring both a high rise area and market area, an elite (upper class) residential sector and a commercial spine - basically an extension of the CBD in boulevard form with amenities, shops, light industry, etc.. These areas are surrounded by concentric zones that decrease in residential quality as you move out from the CBD. The Zone of Maturity includes middle class homes. The Zone of In Situ Accretion is an area between the middle class homes and the squatter settlements (disamenity sector) with many structures that appear to be under constant construction. Infrastructure is inconsistent there. Squatter settlements are located on the outskirts of the city and have very little infrastructure. A periferico (ring road) makes travel easier between different areas of the city.


McGee - Southeast Asian City - Developed in 1967, McGee's model reflects the importance of the colonial port zone in large Southeast Asian cities. Although there is no formal CBD indicated, the components of the CBD are found near the port zone. Alien commercial zones are home to Chinese merchants who have migrated from China to Southeast Asia for economic opportunity for decades. Fast growing sectors extend out from the port zone and newer industrial parts are located on the outskirts.


deBlij - Subsaharan African City - In deBlij's model the Subsaharan African city has three CBDs - an old colonial CBD with some vertical development (high rises), an open-air informal market zone and a transitional market zone with more formal storefront and curbside economic activity. Surrounding the CBDs are residential zones reflecting varying ethnicities. Manufacturing and mining zones are located next to some of these ethnic neighborhoods. Informal satellite townships are squatter settlements located on the outskirts.