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Department of Land Economy

Environment, Law & Economics

Geography, Globalisation and Governance: The UK Regional (and National) Economic Problem

Given by Professor Philip McCann, Tagliaferri Visiting Fellow


The interregional economic unequalities within the UK are now the
highest in the industrialised world on many different indicators. UK
interregional inequalities are longstanding, but the recent surge in these is
largely unprecedented during the last century The lecture will discuss the
evolution of UK interregional inequalities over many decades, but with a
particular focus on the last three decades of modern globalisation.

These changes have been wrought by largely external factors - related to
modern globalisation. These changes are so large and so fundamental, but
in the UK they are also little understood, instead being dominated by
political and media-led narratives. In particular the role of London as an
engine of UK economic growth is somewhat overplayed, while the
importance of Europe across the UK regions is underplayed.

At the same time, in terms of regional issues, on many levels the UK has
not responded to modern globalisation as well as many of our competitor
countries, and there are various reasons for this.

The lecture will argue that a significant part of the reason for this is that
the existing UK governance systems - including both formal and informal
systems - have been very ill-suited to responding to the challenges at
hand. At the same time, an examination of empirics demonstrates that
many UK policy narratives are shown to have been based on very weak
academic arguments. Statistical significance and significance are quite
different things, and these weak arguments have poorly-shaped many
policy responses.

Recent UK developments in spatial policy and policy-thinking regarding
governance devolution and connectivity are examined in the light of the
international arguments and evidence. The strengths and weakness of the
current national-regional and city-region deveolution policy trajectories
are examined and suggestions for future options are also discussed.



Philip McCann holds the University of Groningen Endowed Chair of Economic Geography. He is one of the world's most highly cited urban and regional economists, and also acts as an advisor to the European Commission, OECD, and the European Investment Bank, along with government departments and research institutes in various countries.


The Department of Land Economy is very grateful to Mark Tagliaferri, whose generosity has funded the lecture and the visiting fellowship.

Wednesday, 4 May, 2016 - 17:00 to 18:30
Contact name: 
Clare Cassidy
Contact email: 
Event location: 
Mill Lane Lecture Room 2