Funded PhD Scholarship City-Regions and Regional Cohesion in Scotland

The key aim is to examine the extent to which the spatial concentration of people and jobs in cities can deliver inclusive growth to Scotland's economy. The specific objectives are to examine how agglomeration and dispersion forces impact on the socio-economic outcomes of rural areas and more generally on between- and within-regional inequalities. The research will also examine whether agglomeration forces have strengthened or weakened over time, and which sources of agglomeration economies have become more predominant (e.g. labour pooling, knowledge spillovers, input-output linkages).

Project Description

Background:

“Cities and their regions play a central role in driving economic growth. The Scottish Government is committed to working individually and collectively with Scotland’s cities to optimise that growth for the benefit of the whole of Scotland.”1 People and jobs are greatly agglomerated in cities and city-regions in Scotland and the world. More than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities and the OECD expects this figure to reach 85% by 2100. Collectively, Scotland’s seven city-regions accounted for 53%, 61% and 69% of total population, employment and gross value added respectively, while representing only 22% of the total land area.2 There is abundant evidence in the economic geography and regional science literatures suggesting that the spatial clustering of activities generates positive productivity gains known as agglomeration economies (Melo et al., 2009). Given the current policy emphasis on cities and their regions as growth engines, as manifested in the Scottish Government (SG) economic strategy3, it is very surprising that there is no specific empirical evidence on the nature and extent of agglomeration economies for Scotland4. This lack of evidence for Scotland highlights important gaps in both the empirical literature and in evidence-informed policy-making. Understanding the potential of Scotland’s city-regions to be engines of growth for the whole Scottish economy and its population is also important because in the same economic strategy the SG commits to deliver inclusive growth and regional cohesion. As in other developed countries, there is great inequality in socio-economic outcomes between households and regions in Scotland (Dickey, 2001; Melo, forthcoming; Copus and Hopkins, 2015), with poorer performances generally found in more remote areas which fall outside the sphere of influence of city-regions. The movement of both people and jobs (firms) from remote rural areas to city-regions that occurs through the agglomeration process will cause changes in both the spatial distribution of human capital and the urban-rural distribution of skilled/unskilled jobs. This in turn will lead to permanent changes in the earnings distributions of Scottish regions, with the potential to either increase or decrease both between- and within-region inequality. Since evidence suggests that increased inequality impacts negatively on sustained long-term growth (Stiglitz, 2012; Ostry, Berg, Tsangarides, 2014), a central emerging concern is therefore whether an economic strategy of promoting city-regions can deliver inclusive growth for all of Scotland, and if so, what are the mechanisms for achieving this.

Aim, objectives and main research questions:

The key aim is to examine the extent to which the spatial concentration of people and jobs in cities can deliver inclusive growth to Scotland’s economy. The specific objectives are to examine how agglomeration and dispersion forces impact on the socio-economic outcomes of rural areas and more generally on between- and within-regional inequalities. The research will also examine whether agglomeration forces have strengthened or weakened over time, and which sources of agglomeration economies have become more predominant (e.g. labour pooling, knowledge spillovers, input-output linkages). The aim and objectives will be achieved by addressing the research questions below:

  • RQ1. What evidence is there of urban agglomeration economies in Scotland (i.e. do Scottish cities generate positive urban agglomeration externalities) and how does this vary across the city regions?
  • RQ2. What is the nature (i.e. positive or/and negative) and extent (i.e. spatial reach) of urban agglomeration spillover effects on rural parts of Scotland?
  • RQ3. How (if) can city-regions contribute to regional cohesion, inclusive growth and greater equality across Scotland?

Funding Notes

The PhD studentship is funded under the James Hutton Institute/University Joint PhD programme, in this case with the University of Aberdeen. The PhD supervisors are Dr. Patricia Melo, Dr. Andrew Copus (James Hutton Institute) and Dr. Heather Dickey (University of Aberdeen).
Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent).Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in Jan/Feb 2016. A more detailed plan of the studentship is available to suitable candidates upon application. Funding is available for European applications, but Worldwide applicants who possess suitable self-funding are also invited to apply.


Application Deadline:


Friday, January 01, 2016.

 

How to apply:


Please visit the link to apply: http://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=67791. You will need to complete an application form and send it with your CV to: postgraduate@hutton.ac.uk.

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