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St Catharine's Political Economy Seminar Series


Date: 24 April 2023
Time: 18:00 -19:30
Speaker: Professor Ron Martin and Professor Pete Tyler
Talk Title: 'Left Behind Places and the Political Economy of Levelling Up'
LocationRamsden Room, St Catharine's College

The seminar series is supported by the Cambridge Journal of Economics and the Economics and Policy Group at the Cambridge Judge Business School.

Talk Overview:

In early-2022, the UK Government announced its Levelling Up White Paper, the latest attempt in nearly a century of regional and urban policies, to reduce the spatial inequalities in economic prosperity and performance that exist across the country.  In this seminar, we examine the scale and nature of the UK’s spatial inequalities, among the worst of any major OECD economy, how they have evolved over several decades, and the immense policy challenge they present. We then critically examine the main features of the new Levelling Up programme, its theoretical underpinnings, its aims and its policies, and argue that while there is much in this policy programme that is welcome, ultimately it fails to convince, and that it will have to be substantially strengthened in various ways if it is to have any significant and lasting success. In fact, we argue that despite its aim to expand the devolution of certain powers to new combined local authorities, it still fails to address one critical issue: that the problem of regional economic inequality in the UK, and especially the falling behind of much of northern Britain, cannot be understood in isolation from the concentration of economic, financial and political power in London, and the strategic policy priorities of the UK state, itself centralised in London.

The seminar draws upon the following publications by the researchers:

Levelling Up Left Behind Places: The Scale and Nature of the Economic and Policy Challenge , Ron Martin, Ben Gardiner, Andy Pike, Peter Sunley and Peter Tyler (Routledge), 2021.

‘Levelling Up: Reinforcing the Policy Agenda’ (Ron Martin, Ben Gardiner, Andy Pike, Peter Sunley and Peter Tyler),  Regional Studies, Regional Science, 9, pp.  794-818. (2022)

Ron Martin is Emeritus Professor of Economic Geography.  Although retired from teaching, Ron is still highly research active.   His main research interests include regional economic development, productivity and competitiveness; the geographies of money and finance; evolutionary economic geography; the economic resilience of cities and regions; and spatial economic policy. He has published some 25 books and more than 275 articles on these and related themes. His most recent, co-authored book is Levelling Up Left Behind Places (2021, Routledge). He was President of the Regional Studies Association between 2015-2020. In 2016 he was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Victoria Gold Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Economic Geography. He is listed as a Highly Cited Researcher (among the top 1 percent of most cited social scientists worldwide) by the Web of Science, and has more than 43,000 Google Scholar citations (October 2021). He was a member of the Lead Expert Group on the UK Government Office for Science Foresight Future Cities Project (2013-2016). He has held editorial positions on several journals, including Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Economic Geography, Journal of Economic Geography, Regional Studies, and Environmental and Planning, and in 2008 co-founded, and is an editor on, the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society.  He has undertaken advisory and consultancy work for the European Commission, the OECD, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, HM Treasury, Cambridge Econometrics, and Segal Quince Wicksteed, among others.  He is currently advising the UK Government on its Levelling Up policy.

Peter Tyler is Emeritus Professor in Urban and Regional Economics in the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge and Emeritus Professorial Fellow and former President of St. Catharine's College. Peter was a Director of PA Cambridge Economic Consultants and now Cambridge Economic Associates. He has been Project Director for a very large number of major research projects for governments relating to urban and regional development, twenty-five of which have been of book length. Besides his work in the United Kingdom for HM Government he has also undertaken research for the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on urban, regional, industrial and evaluation policy. He has been an Expert Advisor to the OECD, European Commission and HM Government, including serving on the National Evaluation Panel for Sure Start (HM Government initiative for children under 5). He was a Programme Leader for the Cambridge MIT initiative and is a Policy Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy. During 2016 he was an Expert Advisor to UN Habitat III. Peter was made a Master of the Royal Town Planning on the basis of his contribution to urban and regional spatial planning and a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in the light of his considerable knowledge and experience in the spheres of land, property or construction. He is an Academician of the Learned Society for Social Sciences.

Monday, 24 April, 2023 - 18:00 to 19:30
Event location: 
St Catharine's College