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Economic activity in the UK is unevenly distributed, but little is known about the exact nature of spatial disparities and how they are changing. The work in this programme aims to provide a detailed examination of the scale and nature of UK disparities and how these are changing over time.

One key issue is understanding the extent to which disparities are driven by composition (different people living in different places) versus place-based effects (different outcomes for similar people living in different places). If composition dominates then we need to focus on why places are different in terms of their composition. If place-based effects dominate, for example because of agglomeration effects, then we need to understand why essentially identical individuals have different outcomes in different places. Using newly available microdata, we are constructing a rich picture of the nature and scale of spatial disparities in the UK.

We are also looking at agglomeration economies in more detail. How do agglomeration effects vary with firm and industry type? Is it the case that agglomeration is more important for the so-called innovative industries? Does access to economic mass matter at the level of the neighbourhood, the city or the region? How does spatial scale vary with industry or skill type?

Spatial disparities - and our quality of life - are also affected by access to amenities (such as climate, access to nature and culture, crime, public utilities, pollution, population density, road congestion etc.). It is important therefore to assess the extent to which spatial differences in unemployment/ inactivity and wages reflect either weak or poorly functioning labour markets, or spatial amenity differences. Using a range of micro datasets and remote sensing data, SERC researchers are exploring the value of amenities, and the way these shape house prices and real incomes.

Related Discussion papers

Listed most recent first

Big Plant Closures and Agglomeration Economies
Jordi Jofri-Monseny, Maria Sánchez-Vidal, Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, July 2015
SERC DiscussionPaper No' SERCDP0179

What Makes Cities More Productive? Agglomeration Economies and the Role of Urban Governance: Evidence from 5 OECD Countries
Rudiger Ahrend, Emily Farchy, Ioannis Kaplanis, Alexander C. Lembcke, July 2015
SERC DiscussionPaper No' SERCDP0178

From Periphery to Core: Measuring Agglomeration Effects Using High-Speed Rail
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt, Arne Feddersen, March 2015
SERC DiscussionPaper No' SERCDP0172

The Economic Value of Local Social Networks
Frank Ethridge, Maryann Feldman, Tom Kemeny, Ted Zoller, January 2015
SERC DiscussionPaper No' SERCDP0170

Urban Development and Air Pollution: Evidence from a Global Panel of Cities
Christian A. L. Hilber, Charles Palmer, December 2014
SERC DiscussionPaper No' SERCDP0169

Neighbourhood Turnover and Teenage Attainment
Stephen Gibbons, Olmo Silva, Felix Weinhardt, August 2014
SERC DiscussionPaper No' SERCDP0163

Speed 2.0. Evaluating Access to Universal Digital Highways
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt, Pantelis Koutroumpis, Tommaso Valletti, July 2014
SERC DiscussionPaper No' SERCDP0161

Gone with the Wind: Valuing the Visual Impacts of Wind Turbines through House Prices
Stephen Gibbons, April 2014
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0159 | Abstract

No Escape? The Co-ordination Problem in Heritage Preservation
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt, Nancy Holman, October 2013
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0145 | Abstract

Game of Zones: The Economics of Conservation Areas
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt, Kristoffer Moeller, Sevrin Waights, Nicolai Wendland, September 2013
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0143 | Abstract

Gibrat's Law and the British Industrial Revolution
Alexander Klein, Tim Leunig, September 2013
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0140 | Abstract

Gabriel M. Ahfeldt, May 2013
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0136 | Abstract

The Urban Wage Growth Premium:Sorting or Learning?
Sabine D'Costa, Henry G. Overman, May 2013
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0135

Spatial Variations in Amenity Values: New Evidence from Beijing, China
Wenjie Wu, June 2012
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0113

The Effects of Agglomeration on Wages: Evidence from the Micro-Level
Bernard Fingleton, Simonetta Longhi, June 2011
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0081

Agglomeration in the Periphery
Matti Sarvimäk, May 2011
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0080

Investigating Agglomeration Economies in a Panel of European Cities and Regions
Marianne Sensier, Declan Curran, Michael Artis, April 2011
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0078

The Amenity Value of English Nature: A Hedonic Price Approach
Steve Gibbons, Susana Mourato, Guilherme Resende, March 2011
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0074

Industry and the Urge to Cluster: A Study of the Informal Sector in India
Megha Mukim, March 2011
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0072

Plant-level Determinants of Total Factor Productivity in Great Britain, 1997-2006
Richard Harris, John Moffat, January 2011
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0064

Real Earnings Disparities in Britain
Stephen Gibbons, Henry G. Overman, Guilherme Resende, January 2011
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0065

Wage Disparities in Britain: People or Place?
Steve Gibbons, Henry G. Overman, Panu Pelkonen, October 2010
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0060

Agglomeration Elasticities and Firm Heterogeneity
Daniel J. Graham, David C. Maré, February 2010
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0043

The Impact of Aging and Technological Relatedness on Agglomeration Externalities: A Survival Analysis
Ron Boschma, Martin Henning, Frank Neffke, November 2009
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0036

Agglomeration Economies and Labour Productivity: Evidence from Longitudinal Worker Data for GB's Travel-to-Work Areas
Daniel J. Graham, Patricia C. Melo, October 2009
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0031

The Productivity Advantages of Large Cities: Distinguishing Agglomeration from Firm Selection
Pierre-Philippe Combes, Gilles Duranton, Laurent Gobillon, Diego Puga, Sébastien Roux, October 2009
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0027

Assessing Agglomeration Economies in a Spatial Framework with Endogenous Regressors
Michael Artis, Ernest Miguélez, Rosina Moreno, June 2009
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0023

The UK Intranational Trade Cycle
Michael Artis, Toshihiro Okubo, April 2009
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0019

Survival of the Fittest in Cities: Agglomeration, Selection and Polarisation
Kristian Behrens, Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, November 2008
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0012

Education and Income Inequality in the Regions of the European Union
Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Vassilis Tselios, November 2008
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0011

Labour Pooling as a Source of Agglomeration: An Empirical Investigation
Henry Overman, Diego Puga, September 2008
SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0006