Be the first to like this
Cities Outlook 1901 takes data from the 1901 Census to trace the economic fortunes of cities in the UK over the course of the 20th century. What factors determine the growth paths individual cities take? Why did cities that saw such rapid expansion in the 19th century experience a change of fortunes in the 20th century?
Cities Outlook 1901 finds that skills are the most important factor determining long-run urban success, and therefore are a key area for policy intervention. Seven out of eight of the best performing cities today had above average skills levels in 1901, while 80 percent of cities with vulnerable economies in 2012 fall into the bottom 20 cities for skills levels in 1901.
Targeted investment in infrastructure has also had a significant impact upon city performance. Cities such as Warrington, Preston and Swindon improved their economic performance partly as a result of government investment in infrastructure.
Cities Outlook 1901 illustrates the way that lack of investment is compounded over time. Failure to invest in skills or infrastructure in 1901 had knock-on long-term impacts on a place and its people over decades,while targeted investment in infrastructure and ongoing investment in skills succeeded in helping some places and people improve performance.
For policymakers seeking to learn lessons from the past when confronting today’s economic challenges, three themes stand out:
1. Short-term cuts in expenditure on the key drivers of urban success are likely to result in a big bill in the medium to longer-term.
2. Skills are the biggest determinant of success for cities, and are critical to the life chances of individuals.
3. Targeting investment in infrastructure can have a significant impact upon the economic prospects of a place.