Policy analysis for productivity typically focusses upon human capital, business investment and innovation. Land (including territory, property, infrastructure and planning), despite the resurgence of interest in spatial economics (Glaeser and Gottlieb, 2010), has featured little in national, sectoral and metropolitan studies of productivity.

PIN papers have recognised the importance of infrastructure for growth (McCann: Docherty and Waite). However, there is a continuing failure to recognise housing as essential economic infrastructure and that housing outcomes have important impacts on productivity.

This project seeks to achieve the core PIN aim of improving the productivity conversation and, at the same time, provides a new policy narrative for housing. The project involves four components:

Strengthening the conceptual framing of housing as economic infrastructure with productivity effects (Maclennan, Ong and Wood, 2015). Macroeconomic, infrastructure productivity estimates lack credibility (Maclennan and Docherty, 2017) and similar approaches for housing would be over-aggregative and too complexly correlated to provide policy insights. A more relevant approach, at local scales, is to garner evidence on how multiple housing outcomes (including effects such as house type and size, location relative to employment, neighbourhood context of spill-overs and services, and the price of housing) impact human capital formation, business capital and innovation. Multiple housing outcomes and activities need to be mapped onto well-identified growth drivers (and this exercise strengthens the typically weak characterization of housing economy roles within urban and regional studies).

Building on Maclennan et.al (2018), there will be a systematic literature review, embracing academic and policy sources, of housing outcome-economy connections.

The project will undertake interviews to understand how policy and practice in the different silos of local economic policy, infrastructure, housing and planning capture housing effects in shaping strategies for productivity. It will also address the ways in which business understands the implications of housing outcomes.

The project aims to promote new conversations about better alignment of housing policies, local and national, with growth and productivity objectives.

Find out more

For more details on the project, please contact:

Dr Linda Christie
Public Policy Associate
Policy Scotland, University of Glasgow

Mary Raymer
Policy & Research Analyst
Places for People

People, Places and Productivity

Find out about the People, Places and Productivity study and download documents which provide the background context.


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