Accounting for Big City Growth in Low Paid Occupations: Immigration and/or Service Class Consumption
Growth of 'global cities' in the 1980s was supposed to have involved an occupational polarisation, including growth of low paid service jobs. Though held to be untrue for European cities, at the time, some such growth did emerge in London a decade later than first reported for New York. The question is whether there was simply a delay before London conformed to the global city model, or whether another distinct cause was at work in both cases. This paper proposes that the critical factor in both cases was actually an upsurge of immigration from poor countries providing an elastic supply of cheap labour. This hypothesis and its counterpart based on growth in elite jobs are tested econometrically for the British case with regional data spanning 1975-2008, finding some support for both effects, but with immigration from poor countries as the crucial influence in late 1990s London.
4 May 2012 Paper Number SERCDP0106
This SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper is published under the centre's Urban programme.