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Urban inequality: The role and determinants of urban productivity

One of the ways to understand inequality between regions and cities is to understand why some are more productive than others.

Our existing research has looked at how agglomeration economies (e.g. economies where companies and services are close to each other and so can share infrastructure, support the presence of specialist firms or ease the sharing of knowledge), the transport network and the sorting of workers (i.e. the tendency of highly skilled workers to live in the same place) explain productivity differences across cities.

Our current research continues to consider these issues by using new sources of data to look at what happens inside towns and cities, and how this helps explain differences in economic performance.

For example, we will use Oyster Card data from London Underground to study what determines commuting patterns in a large, complex city.

But we will also pay more attention to institutions and technology. What are the long-run effect of institutions such as political and legal systems, technology and planning on spatial productivity? We are considering this fundamental question using a range of historical data from towns and regions in central Europe, UK regions and the development of London.

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