The Urban programme studies why some regions, cities and communities prosper, while others do not. It aims to understand how shocks to the national economy spread and the role that housing supply, skills supply and infrastructure play in driving urban growth both in developed and developing countries.
One of the ways to understand inequality between regions and cities is to understand why some are more productive than others.
Understanding the reasons for these differences and helping formulate the appropriate policy responses has been a focus of CEP research for nearly 20 years.
Initially, researchers used "new economic geography" models to understand what caused disparities, 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, the emergence of industrial clusters and the importance of access to markets.
Since patterns of urban growth and decline are profoundly uneven, particularly in the UK, we need to understand what determines them to inform key policies, such as the UK's "Northern Powerhouse" and "levelling-up" agenda. To what extent do different concentrations of high and low skills in an area explain differential city growth? What is the role for population density, roads, railways and various agglomeration "externalities" such as labour pooling, input sharing and knowledge spillovers? And what role do better amenities play in attracting people to move to successful cities?
Understanding the causes of spatial disparities has helped inform key policy debates around reforming the planning system, the way we appraise and evaluate transport investment and the role of industrial policy in helping improve the economic performance of cities. Current research will investigate the stability of cities and their short- and long-term ability to respond to employment and trade shocks such as Brexit and Covid-19.
A further factor in development of successful cities, however, is that as they become successful greater demand for housing, and constraints on its supply, lead to rapidly rising prices and high volatility. This causes problems of affordability, especially for low-income, low-skill households. Here research shows that planning policy often drives up the price of land, and limits supply by making housebuilding uneconomic. While much of our research has focused on the UK and other developed countries, a large body of work has looked at urbanisation in developing countries, where city growth can be the engine of economic growth and poverty reduction when public investment in infrastructure, enterprise investment in productive capital and household investment in housing and human capital are undertaken.
The Economics of Density: Evidence from the Berlin Wall
What makes cities thrive? CEP researchers consider what can be learned from the division and reunification of Berlin, in work for which they were awarded the prestigious Frisch Medal in 2018. Read more...
Globalization and the Inequality of Nations
P Krugman and Anthony J. Venables discuss how globalization affects the location of manufacturing and gains from trade. Read more...
Empty homes, longer commutes:
The unintended consequences of more restrictive local planning
Research by Paul Cheshire, Christian Hilber and Hans Koster exposes the unintended and undesirable consequences of local restrictions on building houses, including more empty homes and longer commutes. Read more...
4 May 2021
22 April 2021
Yatang Lin, Thomas K.J. McDermott and Guy Michaels
13 April 2021
31 March 2021
Paul Cheshire, Christian Hilber and Olivier Schöni
30 March 2021
Sascha O. Becker, Stephan Heblich and Daniel M. Sturm
1 March 2021
Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Fabian Bald, Duncan Roth and Tobias Seidel
1 March 2021
Max Nathan and Henry Overman
1 March 2021
Yuhei Miyauchi, Kentaro Nakajima and Stephen J. Redding
18 February 2021
Nicolás González-Pampillón, Gonzalo Nunez-Chaim and Katharina Ziegler
10 February 2021
Christian A. L. Hilber and Andreas Mense
15 January 2021
11 December 2020
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt, Fabian Bald, Duncan Roth and Tobias Seidel
10 December 2020
1 December 2020
Andreas Diemer and Tanner Regan
24 November 2020
Jeremiah Dittmar and Ralph R. Meisenzahl
2 November 2020
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt and Jason Barr
2 November 2020
27 October 2020
Maximilian v. Ehrlich and Henry G. Overman
12 October 2020
8 October 2020
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt, Thilo N. H. Albers and Kristian Behrens
5 October 2020
1 October 2020
25 September 2020
22 September 2020
Nicolás González-Pampillón and Henry G. Overman
21 September 2020