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 9: Conclusion

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


The importance of cities in shaping and enhancing the lives of billions makes understanding how they work vitally important. It also makes good urban policy vitally important. And urban policy is likely to neither be good nor achieve its objectives unless it is informed by an understanding of how cities work. This is true whether one is faced with the problems of the rapid growth of mega-cities in many less developed countries, or the more varied patterns of urban change we observe in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. This book is focused mainly on cities in more developed countries and particularly Britain. There, as we show in Chapter 2, we have seen an urban resurgence over the last decade. But resurgence is not everywhere. It is concentrated in some of the larger cities and in cities with more skilled populations. In general, cities in the south-east have 'outperformed' those further north in terms of population, wages and employment growth, and most of the older industrial cities have not done so well as administrative centres or old historic cities such as York. But even in the set of older industrial cities we observe substantial variation, with strongly performing cities (Manchester, Leeds or Newcastle) close to weakly performing ones (Liverpool, Bradford or Sunderland).

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