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Urban Growth Drivers and Spatial Inequalities: Europe - a Case with Geographically Sticky People

  • Paul C. Cheshire
  • Stefano Magrini

Analysts of regional growth differences in the US tend to assume full spatial equilibrium (Glaeser et al, 1995). Flows of people thus indicate changes in the distribution of spatial welfare more effectively than differences in incomes. Research in Europe, however, shows that people tend to be immobile. Even mobility within countries is restricted compared to the US but national boundaries offer particular barriers to spatial adjustment. Thus it is less reasonable to assume full spatial equilibrium in a European context and differences in per capita incomes may persist and signal real spatial welfare differences. Furthermore, it implies that the drivers of what population movement there is, may differ from the drivers of spatial differences in productivity or output growth. This paper analyses the drivers of differential urban growth in the EU both in terms of population and output growth. The results show significant differences in the drivers as well as common ones. They also reveal the extent to which national borders still impede spatial adjustment in Europe. This has important implications for policy and may apply more generally to countries – for example China - less homogeneous than the USA.

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Paper provided by European Institute, LSE in its series LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series with number 11.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:eiq:eileqs:11
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1995. "Economic Growth in a Cross-Section of Cities," NBER Working Papers 5013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Paul Cheshire & Stefano Magrini, 2009. "Urban growth drivers in a Europe of sticky people and implicit boundaries," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 85-115, January.
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