Thinking Inside The Box:Defining The Problem

Published date01 May 2019
Date01 May 2019
AuthorDavid Hearne,Alex de Ruyter
This chapter offers a brief overview of the present state of
evidence on regional disparities across Britain. We discuss the
importance of different measures of regional economic perfor-
mance before going on to challenge and extend conventional
measures. The post-Brexit environment will pose notable
challenges for regional policy, but also offers the opportunity
to reassess regional needs and appropriate funding formulae.
The chapter is laid out as follows:
• Introduction – Brexit forces us to reconsider regional
inequalities and the introduction outlines the key issues
that need to be addressed.
• Dening the region – The shifting sands of British regional
policy have seen regions successively redened from the
top down. Here the authors reconsider various regional
2Regional Success After Brexit
• Existing measures – This portion of the chapter outlines
the main measures used to assess regional economic
performance, most notably gross value added (GVA).
• Commuting – The chapter then describes how commuting
has a major distortionary effect on GVA per capita – a
measure used by the European Union (EU) in decisions
about structural funding.
• Demographics – In this section, we consider the ways
in which demographic factors can also have an impact
on estimates of regional economic performance and
• Towards a better measureThe chapter concludes by
putting forward preferred measures of regional economic
performance, whilst noting that all can be suffer from
some crucial weaknesses that we address throughout the
rest of the book.
The Brexit vote has shone a harsh light on something that
academics and practitioners have known for years: regional
differences matter. In the West Midlands, almost 60% of votes
were to leave the EU. In London, almost 60% of votes were
to remain. Indeed, some have argued that the vote should be
seen as the ‘revenge of places that don’t matter’ (Rodríguez-
Pose, 2018). This has occurred in spite of the fact that EU
structural funding has been concentrated in many of these
regions and that a number of them are particularly exposed
to EU trade (Los, McCann, Springford, & Thissen, 2017).
One of the most interesting ndings from our recent
‘Brexit Roadshow’ has been a pervasive sense of inequity
and abandonment across a diverse range of communities.

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