Cities, Growth and Poverty: A review of the evidence

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Author +
Neil Lee, Paul Sissons, Ceri Hughes, Anne Green, Gaby Atfield, Duncan Adam & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose

Year: 2014

Cities are drivers of economic growth, but how does growth affect poverty?

This report explores the connection between growth and poverty in UK cities, and examines how strategies for economic growth and poverty reduction can be aligned.

The report finds that:

  • there is no guarantee that economic growth will reduce poverty: some economically expanding cities experienced unchanged or increasing poverty rates;
  • employment growth has the greatest impact on poverty, but it is contextdependent: if jobs are low-paid or go to workers living outside the area, the impact on poverty is minimal;
  • increased output risks worsening poverty because it can lead to increases in the cost of living;
  • some cities are tackling this challenge by promoting employment in expanding sectors or providing training targeted at disadvantaged groups to enable them to access opportunities associated with major infrastructure projects.

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Executive summary
1. Introduction
Why cities matter for growth and poverty
About the report
2. Background and framework for analysis
A framework for linking cities, growth and poverty
The drivers of growth
Types of economic growth
People and places – factors linking growth and poverty
Benefits and the cost of living
Types of poverty
3. Cities and economic growth
The economic advantages of cities
UK cities compared with their international counterparts
The drivers of economic growth
4. The link between growth and poverty in cities
Trends in growth and poverty in the UK
Economic growth in British cities, 2001–10
The drivers of economic growth in British cities
The geography of poverty in the 2000s
The relationship between growth and poverty
Economic growth, wages and costs
5. Experience and policies to promote economic growth and poverty alleviation at city level
Economic growth and poverty alleviation: strategies, activities and policy levers
Types of economic growth: output (GVA) and/or employment
Factors linking growth and poverty
Examples of local policy approaches and reflections on what works
Policy levers addressing growth and poverty at a local level
6. Conclusions and implications for policy
General conclusions and implications
The drivers of growth in UK cities
The relationship between growth and poverty at city level
Local levers for linking growth and poverty reduction
Are the objectives of growth and poverty reduction compatible?
Recommendations for different cities
Annex 1: Case study cities – policy matrix
About the authors