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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper

Urban Growth Drivers in a Europe of Sticky People and Implicit Boundaries


We investigate urban GDP pc growth across the EU12 using data for functionally defined cities - rather than administrative regions. We test hypotheses on the role of human capital, EU integration and fragmentation of urban government and explore spatial dependence and mechanisms of spatial interaction. Results are acceptable on standard econometric tests without measures of spatial interaction but there is spatial dependence. If variables reflecting spatial adjustment are included, they are statistically significant and eliminate spatial dependence. Not only do the results now provide consistent estimates of parameters, they also support relevant theoretical insights and show national borders are still significant barriers to economic adjustment. People in Europe are sticky so it is unreasonable to assume spatial disparities will disappear. Our findings also imply that cities in Europe form national rather than a single continental system.


Paul Cheshire and Stefano Magrini

November 2008     Paper Number SERCDP0010

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This SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper is published under the centre's Urban programme.