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Ben Gardiner and Richard Lewney

This chapter presents a preliminary analysis of work to improve understanding about UK productivity performance and its drivers. The chapter reflects on the link between productivity and infrastructure and connectivity, as well as debates on cities and agglomeration. In addition, the chapter highlights the ways in which the sectoral structure of cities and regions influence their growth performance. Given the complexity of the productivity puzzle there is a need for a more interdisciplinary approach, distinguishing fundamental factors from those that are more like consequences of declining productivity growth. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the various productivity-related questions that still remain unresolved in current debates.

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Ben Gardiner, Richard Lewney and Ron Martin

This chapter analyses sectoral and spatial differences in resilience to the pandemic and considers the implications for growth and productivity outcomes in the recovery. The chapter begins with a discussion of simulations of the macroeconomic and sectoral impacts of the pandemic using the E3ME global macro-sectoral model, locating the UK within the wider global context. The simulations are implemented as shocks to spending on the products for which demand is most affected by the pandemic: consumption activity which involves physical proximity to others, spending on investment goods and consumer durables that is deferred when incomes are cut or uncertain, and spending on international travel and commuting to work. The model calculates the implications for GDP, sector outputs, employment and productivity. Initially the cyclical impacts on productivity dominate, but in the recovery the impact of reduced business investment is felt. Given this macroeconomic and sectoral context, the chapter proceeds to review differences in the UK’s spatial economies. Here there are two approaches to consider. The first (top-down) considers the spatial effects as smaller-scale versions of the country, which leads to impacts depending mostly on sectoral mix. The second (bottom-up) considers how different localities (regions, cities, etc) have performed differently to the nation over the various shocks and cycles that we can observe in the data. Using this information, together with the specific features of the COVID-19 economic shock and the way it is affecting different sectors and occupations, a more nuanced view on the likely spatial productivity effects can be established.