Department of Geography

What would Weitzman say?

In the classroom I simply refer to him as “Weitzman”, in the same way people simply refer to Keynes, Arrow, Solow, or Hicks. Such widely understood abbreviations reflect their high standing and unique contributions. Students recognised the importance of Weitzman’s contributions to economic theory too. After a year-long lecture series, one of my students proposed a t-shirt with “What […]

The value of having a view to a canal

Britain has an extensive canal and navigable river network, which played a vital role in transporting goods from the Industrial Revolution through the 18th, 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. Their use for transporting freight had all but disappeared by the mid-20th century, and many had fallen into disrepair or been abandoned. Since then, the canal and […]

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    Governments strive to attract investment, but so far there’s no evidence of what works

Governments strive to attract investment, but so far there’s no evidence of what works

Scholars and practitioners alike have extensively discussed what makes different firms choose to invest in different places, and have looked at what this can mean for both the host countries and sending countries. But what can policymakers do in practice to make a real difference to their country or region? Do the classic “tried and tested” methods really do […]

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    How cities can avoid the pitfalls of ‘beauty contests’ to attract multinational investment

How cities can avoid the pitfalls of ‘beauty contests’ to attract multinational investment

What drives foreign investment to some cities and regions of the world, but leaves others almost completely untouched? And what can cities and regions do in order to attract those investments?

Traditionally, scholars have tried to understand this by looking at things like market access, skills, the price of land, tax regimes, corruption levels and so on – on that […]

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    Developing an effective local industrial strategy for the UK

Developing an effective local industrial strategy for the UK

The UK’s poor productivity performance has been the source of much debate and policy focus over the last few years. Without an increase in productivity, we won’t see rising wages or higher standards of living. Against a backdrop of continued wage stagnation and huge variations in productivity across the country, the government has invited local leaders up and down […]

When globalisation gets local: winners and losers

A complex flow of investment is spreading across the globe, connecting more and more places. These flows bundle together streams of capital, skills and knowledge, the key factors in determining the development and wealth of places. As a result, it is now impossible to understand economic opportunities, innovation and development without one central concept: CONNECTIVITY.

However, investment flows are highly […]

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    How to attract foreign direct investment and promote exports

How to attract foreign direct investment and promote exports

With Brexit looming, the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth has been running a series of workshops with local areas to think about different policy responses and consider what the evidence says on effectiveness. One thing that local areas wanted to know was what the evaluation evidence said on export support and inward investment promotion. In response, we have […]

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    Who benefits from neighbourhoods designated as conservation areas?

Who benefits from neighbourhoods designated as conservation areas?

Opinions on conservation areas are split. Proponents would argue that conservation areas protect the visual appearance of historic neighbourhoods, by preventing owners from making changes that would be detrimental to character. Opponents would counter that this form of protection, in practice, means a severe restriction of property rights and, as a result, owners cannot adapt their homes to changing […]

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    Diamond Light Source and its impact on the UK geographical distribution of science

Diamond Light Source and its impact on the UK geographical distribution of science

Big scientific research facilities like the UK’s Diamond Light Source, a third generation synchrotron (circular particle accelerator), benefit scientists located nearby significantly more than scientists located further away. According to our research, the highly localised effects of scientific infrastructure on research productivity extend even to scientists that do not rely on the facilities directly for their work.

Since scientific facilities often cannot […]

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    It’s not that London is too big, but that other large UK cities are too small

It’s not that London is too big, but that other large UK cities are too small

The elections are barely behind us now, and we should keep asking the question, ‘What are the economic forces polarising the UK?’ A big part of the story concerns the geographical concentration of economic activity in London (and the South East). Is this concentration good for those who live or work in London but bad for those who don’t? […]

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    Airports helped boost the manufacturing sector and productivity in China

Airports helped boost the manufacturing sector and productivity in China

Airport construction or expansion is often proposed as a policy lever to boost cities, regions and national economies worldwide – although this case is not clear cut as some well publicised ‘white elephants’ and the recent debate over expansion of London’s airports testify. But it is in large developing countries with poor road and rail infrastructure that air transport […]

The roles of nature and history in world development

Why do people live where they do, whether in the world as a whole or within a given country?  Why are some places so densely populated and some so empty? In daily life, we take this variation in density as a matter of course, but in many ways it can be quite puzzling.

Key drivers of the distribution of population […]

Fear of fracking affects house prices in the UK

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The UK government has recently given its approval for exploratory drilling and hydraulic fracturing – ‘fracking’ – for shale gas at two sites in Lancashire. This follows a similar decision for North Yorkshire earlier in the year.

Some will see these approvals as landmark planning decisions marking the way to a low-cost energy future for the UK. For others, […]

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    The financial crisis affected EU regions and cities differently

The financial crisis affected EU regions and cities differently

What regional variations have there been in the recovery from the financial crisis across Europe? In a recent study, we have mapped the impact of the crisis across 27 EU member states using key regional performance indicators. In doing so we explore the potential links between post-crisis economic performance, and pre-crisis economic factors that may have exacerbated or mitigated […]

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    NHS walk-in centres are popular, but divert few patients from A&Es

NHS walk-in centres are popular, but divert few patients from A&Es

In 2010 NHS Walk-in Centres were a valued feature of around 200 communities in England, but many of these facilities have since closed or are facing closure. My research may go some way to explaining why: less than a fifth of patients attending a centre would otherwise have attended an A&E, meaning the centres do little to relieve pressure […]

Why are house prices in London so high?

House prices in the South East of England would have been roughly 25 percent lower in 2008 and perhaps 30 percent lower in 2015 if the region had planning regulations of similar restrictiveness as the North East of England. That is one of the findings of our new research paper. Real house prices – but not real incomes – have […]

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    Refining the climate science will be essential for firms’ ability to adapt to global warming

Refining the climate science will be essential for firms’ ability to adapt to global warming

“It’s nice for people to talk about two degrees….but we don’t even have the commitments that are going to keep us below four degrees of warming”. Bill Gates, in The Economist.

Even the most optimistic predictions of the outcome of the Conference of Parties in Paris (COP21) still agree that historical emissions have ‘locked in’ 1.5C of global mean temperature […]

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    The presence of foreign multinationals in the UK boosts innovation by domestic firms

The presence of foreign multinationals in the UK boosts innovation by domestic firms

The importance of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the global economy has become increasingly apparent over time, framing the debate about their impact on the recipient economies. Countries fiercely compete to attract MNEs in light of the expected benefits that may stem from their presence and operations, despite the lack of consensus in the academic literature […]