The UK Regional-National Economic Problem: Geography, globalisation and governance, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The UK Regional-National Economic Problem

Geography, globalisation and governance, 1st Edition

By Philip McCann


544 pages | 39 B/W Illus.

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In recent years, the United Kingdom has become a more and more divided society with inequality between the regions as marked as it has ever been. In a landmark analysis of the current state of Britain’s regional development, Philip McCann utilises current statistics, examines historical trends and makes pertinent international comparisons to assess the state of the nation.

The UK Regional–National Economic Problem brings attention to the highly centralised, top down governance structure that the UK deploys, and demonstrates that it is less than ideally placed to rectify these inequalities. The ‘North-South’ divide in the UK has never been greater and the rising inequalities are evident in almost all aspects of the economy including productivity, incomes, employment status and wealth. Whilst the traditional economic dominance of London and its hinterland has continued along with relative resilience in the South West of England and Scotland, in contrast the Midlands, the North of England, Northern Ireland and Wales lag behind by most measures of prosperity. This inequality is greatly limiting national economic performance and the fact that Britain has a below average standard of living by European and OECD terms has been ignored. The UK’s economic and governance inequality is unlikely to be fundamentally rebalanced by the current governance and connectivity trends, although this definitive study suggests that some areas of improvement are possible if they are well implemented.

This pivotal analysis is essential reading for postgraduate students in economics and urban studies as well as researchers and policy makers in local and central government.


‘This is a 'tour de force', rich in its depth of analysis of UK cities and regions, set in an international context. Its conclusions will challenge both researchers and policy makers and is essential reading. It is economic geography at its best!’ — Sir Alan Wilson FBA, FRS.

‘Regional and urban policies matter for countries’ economic performance: this is a fundamental link often overlooked in the design of pro-growth policy packages. Taking the case of the U.K. economy, Professor Philip McCann makes in this book a splendid demonstration of how the system of regions and cities contributes to aggregate productivity and growth. His analysis, backed by a rich body of academic literature and empirical evidence, shows how well-tailored policies to regional differences and assets could mobilise a currently untapped growth (and well-being) potential existing in U.K. regions and cities.’— Joaquim Oliveira Martins, Head of the OECD Regional Policy Division and Associate Professor, University Paris-Dauphine.

"…an important book which brings fresh, well-founded and challenging insights to the UK regional problem… especially timely in light of the recent UK referendum on EU membership… the book presents a convincing challenge to the dominant theoretical and policy debates about regional development in the UK and its claims deserve wide debate." - John Tomaney, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning in the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London; the LSE Review of Books Blog.


Table of Contents

1 The UK Regional (and National) Economic Problem 2 The Economic Performance of UK Regions 3 Debates Regarding the Economic Role of Cities: The UK Experience in the Light of International Comparisons 4 The UK’s International Economic Engagement and the London ‘Global City’ Argument 5 The UK Interregional Economic System: Structures, Linkages and Spillovers 6 The Sub-National Economic Policy Agenda: Governance Devolution and Interregional Connectivity 7 Issues and Considerations Arising from the Sub-National Economic Policy Agenda 8 Postscript

About the Author

Philip McCann holds the University of Groningen Endowed Chair of Economic Geography at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and is also the Tagliaferri Visiting Fellow in the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge, UK.

About the Series

Regions and Cities

In today’s globalised, knowledge-driven and networked world, regions and cities have assumed heightened significance as the interconnected nodes of economic, social and cultural production, and as sites of new modes of economic governance and policy experimentation. This book series brings together incisive and critically engaged international and interdisciplinary research on this resurgence of regions and cities, and should be of interest to geographers, economists, sociologists, political scientists and cultural scholars, as well as to policy-makers involved in regional and urban development.

If you would like to discuss a potential new book for the series, please contact:

Joan Fitzgerald – [email protected] – Series Editor-in-Chief, or

Natalie Tomlinson – [email protected] – Routledge Commissioning Editor

For more information on the Regional Studies Association, visit


Did you know that as a Regional Studies Association member you’re entitled to a 30% discount on all Routledge books? To order, simply email Luke McNicholas ([email protected]), or phone on +44 (0) 20 701 77545 and declare your RSA membership.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Business Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development