The Belt and Road Initiative: reshaping economic geography in Central Asia?

Julia Bird, Mathilde Lebrand, Anthony J. Venables

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


This paper develops a computable spatial equilibrium model of Central Asia and uses it to analyze the possible effects of the Belt and Road Initiative on the economy of the region. The model captures international and subnational economic units and their connectivity to each other and the rest of the world. Aggregate real income gains from the Belt Road Initiative range from less than 2 percent of regional income if adjustment mechanisms take the form of conventional Armington and monopolistic competition, to around 3 percent if there are localization economies of scale and labor mobility. In the latter case, there are sizeable geographical variations in impact, with some areas developing clusters of economic activity with income increases of as much as 12 percent and a doubling of local populations, while other areas stagnate or even decline.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102441
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Central Asia
  • Economic geography
  • Regional integration
  • Spatial modeling
  • Transport infrastructure

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