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CEP discussion paper

Does light touch cluster policy work? Evaluating the tech city programme


Despite academic scepticism, cluster policies remain popular with policymakers. This paper evaluates the causal impact of a flagship UK technology cluster programme. I build a simple framework and identify effects using difference-in-differences and synthetic controls on rich microdata. I further test for timing, cross-space variation, scaling and churn channels. The policy grew and densified the cluster, but has had more mixed effects on tech firm productivity. I also find most policy ‘effects’ began before rollout, raising questions about the programme’s added value.


Max Nathan

29 August 2019     Paper Number CEPDP1648

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Urban programme.