How did London get away with it? The recession and the north-south divide

Henry G Overman, professor of economic geography at LSE and director of the Spatial Economics Research Centre

Last week was the first in a new series of SAGE-sponsored events at the LSE. LSE Works is a series of public lectures that will showcase some of the latest research by LSE’s Research Centres. In each session, LSE academics will present key research findings, demonstrating where appropriate the implications of their studies for public policy.

219 people attended the event, which featured a forty-minute case put forward by Professor Henry G Overman, professor of economic geography at LSE and director of the Spatial Economics Research Centre, followed by responses from panellists Ian Gordon, professor of human geography at LSE; Alex Jones, chief executive of the Centre for Cities; and Hamish McRae, associate editor of The Independent.

The discussion centred on the recession, and the expectation that London would, in the short to medium run, be the most severely hit of the UK regions in the recession initiated by the 2007-08 financial crisis. Statistics appear to show that this has not been the case in reality.

Professor Overman’s opening question was really to question the notion that London has ‘got away with it’ at all. The case was made that London employees are predominantly in professional occupations (rather than administration, service or basic). This factor was crucial in the job losses experienced across the country, where administrative and basic occupations were most badly affected. However what this factor also demonstrates is that while some Londoners ‘got away with it’, London’s working poor did not. Slides, video and audio are available from this event.

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