Professor Philip McCann publishes Think Piece on Perceptions of Regional Inequality

By 22 January 2019Think Piece

In the first of a weekly series of posts, the UK2070 Commission are today publishing the first in a series of Think Pieces submitted to the Commission as part of its recent Call For Evidence, and which the Commission has received permission of the author(s) to publish to a wider audience on our website.

The first of these think pieces is written by Professor Philip McCann, Chair of Urban and Regional Economics at the University of Sheffield Management School, and is entitled Perceptions of Regional Inequality and the Geography of Discontent: Insights from the UK. The paper examines whether the United Kingdom displays high or average levels of interregional inequality, by comparing the UK to 30 other OECD countries across 28 different indicators.

Professor McCann not only concludes that the UK is one of most regionally unbalanced countries in the industrialised world; but also notes that this is something rarely accurately reported, or even understood, by the national media. The report studies online debate about the publication by The Economist on 21st October 2018 of a diagram which sought to show the differences in productivity between UK regions when compared with other countries; a written response to this by the organisation, FullFact; and the tweets of political commentators discussing the accuracy of both reports and their own opinions.

The report also considers the usefulness and interpretation of different measures of inequality; the logic, construction and use of the various OECD regional and urban datasets, and uses both of these to revisit the debate between The Economist and FullFact.

Read the report in full here.

Professor Philip McCann is also the Tagliaferri Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and has been special adviser to two different European Commissioners for Regional and Urban Policy, and to a range of international bodies, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Investment Bank. He sits as a Commissioner for UK2070.