Urban Economics and Urban Policy
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Urban Economics and Urban Policy

Challenging Conventional Policy Wisdom

Paul C. Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry G. Overman

In this bold, exciting and readable volume, Paul Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry Overman illustrate the insights that recent economic research brings to our understanding of cities, and the lessons for urban policy-making. The authors present new evidence on the fundamental importance of cities to economic wellbeing and to the enrichment of our lives. They also argue that many policies have been trying to push water uphill and have done little to achieve their stated aims; or, worse, have had unintended and counterproductive consequences.
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Chapter 7: Devolution, city governance and economic performance

Paul C. Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry G. Overman


There are several ways to structure thinking about what urban policy might do to improve economic performance. One way is to take a specific area of policy and to use available evidence and the analytical framework provided by urban economics to carefully analyse what we know about the impact of that policy on urban economic outcomes. This is what we have done in Chapters 4-6 with our focus on planning policy - an area where urban economics has much to say about the likely impact of policy and where we have argued that British policy, in particular, is in need of radical reform. A second way to think about what urban policy should do is to consider a range of specific policy instruments, using insights from urban economics to compare and contrast the likely impacts. This is the approach that we adopt in Chapter 8. A third possibility is to abstract from the details of specific policies, and ask instead whether the way in which policy decisions get made influences urban economic performance. That is the approach that we adopt in this chapter that looks at the link between devolution, governance and economic outcome. By necessity, this is the most context-specific of the chapters of this book. While some of the discussion on the evidence on the link between devolution and improved urban economic performance might be of more general interest, some of the more detailed policy context might not.

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