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What determines urban growth and urban decline and what should be the role of policy?

Recent decades have seen momentous changes in the economic geography of the world.

Economic geography has changed at all spatial scales not just aggregate regions, but also within regions and countries.

Our research in the 1990s and 2000's, drawing heavily on the "new economic geography" describes the forces driving these changes and considers the appropriate policy response focusing on firms and consumers, the role of transport and other costs of doing business at a distance.

We used this framework to explain the history of globalisation (discussed in our Trade Programme, the emergence of industrial clusters and by using the example of the Iron Curtain's impact on West Germany how a whole country's economy could be changed by economic geography.

Other programme themes have looked at the determinants of city growth and productivity and the role of infrastructure, housing and planning. This project looks at the short- and long-term capacity of cities and towns to maintain stability in their response to economic shocks such as the trade shocks accompanying Brexit and the employment shocks accompanying Covid-19.

Why do some adjust faster than others (eg London after the financial crisis) and what are the implications for longer-run growth and decline? What are the other triggers for urban decline, resilience and recovery? Shocks to employment, such as big plant closures, and to amenities and housing represent starting points for determining "key events" that could be early warning systems for areas in danger of decline.

What determines urban growth and urban decline and what should be the role of policy? publications

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