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Regional Economic Disparities and Development in the UK

NIESR2019.02.11

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This short paper explores the evolution of regional economic disparities in the UK from the 1960s until now. While there have always been economic disparities, more than two thirds of places now are less productive than the national average. Regional differences are discussed in terms of incomes and labour productivity, and I highlight the central role of agglomeration economies. Policymakers should acknowledge that regional disparities are by definition relative, rendering ‘regional development’ meaningless without a politically-agreed benchmark. Finally, as goods and services are increasingly produced and delivered digitally, the role of digital infrastructure will play an increasing role in addressing regional disparities.

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