Cities, Jobs, and Economic Change

This programme takes an internationally comparative, cross-disciplinary, and multidimensional approach to analysing economic and technological change, polarised labour markets, and geographic divides in education, employment opportunities, political attitudes, and cultural values. It engages quantitative and qualitative researchers to understand both broad economic processes and everyday lived experiences.

We argue for a move away from the neo-classical economics framework which dominates policy-making, towards consideration of market failures and the importance of planning.

Professor David Soskice

This research programme is led by Professor Neil Lee

The information technology revolution has led to huge changes in society, reshaping social relationships, the type of work we do, and patterns of consumption. Many countries have seen a decline in mid-skill, mid-wage jobs, with polarisation between high skill, high pay employment and low skill, low pay (and often precarious) work. One striking feature of this economic change has been its tendency to concentrate economic prosperity in selected locations. Once-thriving urban areas are ‘left behind’, struggling to replace their historical economic purpose. Discontent with this uneven geography of opportunity is manifest in the rise of populist politics across Europe and the United States, challenging the stability of democratic societies.

Our research programme ties together LSE academics who are interested in developing an internationally comparative, cross-disciplinary and multidimensional approach to these issues. Other strands will investigate the institutional responses to technological change, such as the failure of education systems to meet the increased demand for high skilled labour and sub-optimal investment in research and development. We will engage quantitative and qualitative researchers to understand both broad economic processes and everyday lived experiences.

Research projects

Research focus and aims 

The programme is organised around four core problems:

1. First is the problem of managing growing spatial economic inequality. Central governments have policies to manage the national economy, but what can help poorer cities and towns?  

2. Second is strengthening the link between increased aggregate demand and quality employment. Some of our fastest-growing, most ‘successful’ cities also contain the most precarious and poorest workers. How do ‘good’ jobs get created, and how can labour market inequalities between men and women or across ethnic groups be reduced?  

3. Third, how can successful, growing urban areas ensure a strong link between economic growth and individual human welfare? This will include investigating the relational aspects and lived experience of inequality in urban areas, and the relationship between inequalities and social mobility.  

4. Finally, to what extent is growing spatial inequality leading to social division? In particular, processes of selective migration are both a cause and a consequence of political divisions between richer and poorer places. We are working to unpick the implications of these processes and how they can be understood. 

The programme aims to produce the following outputs:

Ethnographic solutions to inequalities in South Asian advicescapes

This project led by Professor David Lewis is part of the Atlantic Equity Challenge organised by the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity.

The provision of business advice is an important, yet little studied, aspect of contemporary social and economic change in the Global South, with important implications for the reproduction of rural-urban and social inequalities. An extensive industry of business advice-giving exists in South Asia, involving public and non-governmental sectors, and increasingly, private firms. This shift reflects a growing private sector emphasis in development, towards economic growth driven initiatives, entrepreneurship, and a focus on small and medium enterprises. This transformation has altered streams of business advice and finance: steering microfinance into business finance, and shifting informal lending towards formal debt.

The context for this study is the expanding un- and under-employed youth demographic that exists against the backdrop of business and entrepreneurship that is increasingly central to development initiatives. The focus of the study is the practice of giving business advice to young people aged 18 to 25 as potential entrepreneurs. Such advicescapes are more complex than they appear to formal advice-delivery agents, and entangle kin, religious leaders and elders as informal advice agents as well. The presence of discriminatory practices in advicescapes are less visible to these formal advice providers, who may be unwitting perpetrators of bias. Attitudes and other subtle aspects are neither monitored nor measured. These issues lend themselves to the ethnographic approach to be taken in the proposed research. The project’s overarching research question is: “Can entrepreneurial advice-giving address inequalities of access and outcome for young people in rural and urban south Asia?”

Read more about the project here

Social media and the crisis of urban inequality: transnational analyses of humanitarian responses across the Middle East, South Asia and Africa

This project led by Dr Romola Sanyal is part of the Atlantic Equity Challenge organised by the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity.

Spanning three sites in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, this project will examine how social media is used to navigate the terrain between humanitarianism and inequality in the Global South. Inequality should not only be studied in humanitarian crisis settings, but should itself be seen as a humanitarian crisis, especially in cities. The inequality of the social and legal conditions of the urban poor, migrants and refugees, which limit their access to jobs and housing, are multidimensional, produced vertically through income/wealth, horizontally through ethnic identity, migration status, gender and age, and through space and institutional practices.

The project will consider how social and communications media play a key role in alleviating and exacerbating inequalities. Social and communications media are tools of self-organisation that help displaced people and migrants arrive in cities, and access housing, jobs and transportation. But they also entrench inequalities, with a disconnect between the kinds of information that migrants, displaced and other community members receive and that are available to civil society, state and humanitarian actors. Thus information and communication can shape support and livelihoods, and also continue the exclusion of people as surplus populations. This role of social media as both enabler and excluder in conditions of crises remains underresearched, and is an area requiring policy development to improve rapid responses to urban shocks.

Read more about the project here


Professor Neil Lee, Cities, Jobs and Economic Change Programme Leader and Professor of Economic Geography, Department of Geography and Environment, LSE.

Dr Pawel Bukowski, Faculty Associate, LSE III, Assistant Professor of Economics, at UCL School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Economic Performance, LSE, and adjunct at the Institute of Economics, Polish Academy of Sciences.

Dr Mark Fransham, Visiting Fellow, LSE III, and Senior Research Officer and Departmental Lecturer in Quantitative Methods, Department for Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford.

Max Herbertson, Policy Officer and Research Assistant, LSE III.

Professor Jonathan Hopkin, Professor of Comparative Politics, Department of Government, LSE. 

Professor Simona Iammarino, Faculty Associate, LSE III, and Professor of Applied Economics, Department of Economics and Business, University of Cagliari, Italy.

Dr Beatriz Jambrina Canseco, Research Officer, LSE III.  

Dr Tom Kemeny, Visiting Senior Fellow, LSE III, and Associate Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto.

Pedro Llanos, Department of Geography and Environment Doctoral Programme Candidate, LSE. 

Dr Davide Luca, Visiting Fellow, LSE III and Assistant Professor of Economic Geography, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge.

Dr Andrew McNeil, Research Officer, LSE III.  

Dr Frieder Mitsch, Research Officer, LSE III.  

Margarida Bandeira Morais, Department of Geography and Environment Doctoral Programme Candidate, LSE. 

Martina Pardy, Department of Geography and Environment Doctoral Programme Candidate, LSE.

Yorga Permana, Department of Geography and Environment Doctoral Programme Candidate, LSE. 

Mihaela Pop, Research Assistant, LSE III and Centre for Economic Performance, and Doctoral Programme Candidate, University of Oxford.

Dr Joaquín Prieto, Visiting Fellow, LSE III. 

Professor Kirsten Sehnbruch, British Academy Global Professor and Distinguished Policy Fellow, LSE III.  

Professor David Soskice, Faculty Associate, LSE III, and Emeritus Professor and Fellow of the British Academy, Department of Government, LSE. 

Professor Michael Storper, Centennial Professor of Economic Geography, Department of Geography and Environment, LSE.

Dr Joel Suss, Visiting Fellow, LSE III, and Research Data Scientist, Bank of England.

Javier Terrero, Research Assistant, LSE III, and Junior Economist, OECD.

Hillary Vipond, Department of Economic History Doctoral Programme Candidate, LSE and Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity, LSE III.  

Jingyuan Zeng, Department of Geography and Environment Doctoral Programme Candidate, LSE.


Arman, Husam, Iammarino, Simona, Ibarra-Olivo, J Eduardo and Lee, Neil (2022) Systems of innovation, diversification, and the R&D trap: A case study of Kuwait. Science and Public Policy, 49(2), 179-190.

Bandeira Morais, Margarida, Iammarino, Simona and Lee, Neil (2023) Economic complexity, exports and natural resources in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Geography and Environment Discussion Paper Series, Paper No. 41.

Bathelt, Harald and Storper, Michael (2022) Related Variety and Regional Development. Utrecht University Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography.

Casadei, Patrizia, Vanino, Enrico and Lee, Neil (2022) Trade in creative services: relatedness and regional specialization in the UK. Regional Studies. 

Crescenzi, Riccardo, Ganau, Roberto and Storper, Michael (2022) Does foreign investment hurt job creation at home? The geography of outward FDI and employment in the USA. Journal of Economic Geography, 22 (1). 53 - 79. 

Crescenzi, Riccardo, Ganau, Roberto and Storper, Michael (2023) Outward FDI and home country employment. Columbia FDI Perspectives.

Diemer, Andreas, Iammarino, Simona, Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés and Storper, Michael (2022) The regional development trap in Europe. Economic Geography, 98 (5), 487-509. .

Fransham, Mark, Herbertson, Max, Pop, Mihaela, Bandeira Morais, Margarida and Lee, Neil (2022) Level best? The levelling up agenda and UK regional inequality. Regional Studies.

Hopkin, Jonathan and Voss, Dustin (2022) Political Parties and Growth Models. Diminishing Returns: The New Politics of Growth and Stagnation375-400.

Hopkin, Jonathan (2022) The Politics of Tax Justice in Democracies: Redistribution Beyond the Median Voter Theorem. LSE Public Policy Review2(4).

Jambrina-Canseco, Beatriz (2023) The stories we tell ourselves: Local newspaper reporting and support for the radical right. Political Geography, 100.

Kemeny, Tom, Petralia, Sergio and Storper, Michael (2022) Disruptive innovation and spatial inequality. Regional Studies1-18.

Lee, Neil (2023) Inclusive innovation in cities: From buzzword to policy. Regional Studies

Luca, Davide, Terrero-Davila, Javier, Stein, Jonas and Lee, Neil (2022) Progressive Cities: Urban-rural polarisation of social values and economic development around the world. Urban Studies.

McNeil, Andrew and Haberstroh, Charlotte (2022) Intergenerational social mobility and the Brexit vote: how social origins and destinations divide Britain. European Journal of Political Research62(2), 612-632.

McNeil, Andrew, Lee, Neil and Luca, Davide (2022) The long shadow of local decline: birthplace economic conditions, political attitudes, and long-term individual economic outcomes in the UK, Journal of Urban Economics163, 103571

Mitsch, Frieder and McNeil, Andrew (2022) Political implications of ‘green’ infrastructure in one’s ‘backyard’: the Green Party’s Catch 22?. LSE III Working Paper 81.  

Permana, Muhammad Yorga, Izzati, Nabiyla Risfa and Askar, Media Wahyudi. (2022) Measuring the Gig Economy in Indonesia: Typology, Characteristics, and Distribution. Jurnal Manajemen Teknologi, 21(3), 339-358

Prieto, Joaquin (2022) A multidimensional approach to measuring economic insecurity: the case of Chile. Social Indicators Research, 1-33.  

Prieto, Joaquin, Sehnbruch, Kirsten and Vidal, Diego (2022) A dynamic counting approach to measure multidimensional deprivation in jobs. Applied Economics Letters1-6.

Randolph, Gregory F. and Storper, Michael (2023) Is urbanisation in the Global South fundamentally different? Comparative global urban analysis for the 21st century. Urban Studies, 60 (1). 3 - 25. 

Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés and Storper, Michael (2020) Dodging the burden of proof: a reply to Manville, Lens and Mönkkönen. Urban Studies 59(1), 59-74.

Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés, Terrero-Davila, Javier and Lee, Neil (2023) Left-behind versus unequal places: interpersonal inequality, economic decline, and the rise of populism in the USA and Europe. Journal of Economic Geography, 00, 1-26.

Schneider, Benjamin and Vipond, Hillary (2023) The past and future of work: how history can inform the age of automation. LSE Economic History Working Papers, No. 354.

Siavelis, Peter M., Sehnbruch, Kirsten, Barozet, Emmanuelle and Ulloa, Valentina (2022) Public appointments as informal institutions: lessons from the Cuoteo in Chile, 1990-2018. Revista de Ciencia Politica, 42 (3). 537 - 563

Soskice, David and McNeil, Andrew (2022) Relational inequality in a (deeply) educationally polarised society: feasible strategies in the longer term. Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Soskice, David (2022) Rethinking Varieties of Capitalism and growth theory in the ICT era. Review of Keynesian Economics10(2), 222-241.

Soskice, David (2022) The technological revolution, segregation, and populism – a long-term strategic response. Origins and Alternative Policy Responses127.

Events and recordings 



The Evolution of Black Neighborhoods in the U.S., 1970-2020

Part of the III Inequalities Seminar Series

Tuesday 10 May 2022, 12:30 to 1:30pm. Online public event. 

Watch the video. Listen to the podcast

Speaker: Professor Michael Lens,  Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA 

Chair: Professor Neil Lee, Professor of Economic Geography,  and Convenor, Cities, Jobs and Economic Change Research programme, LSE III 


Power, Privilege, Parties: The Shaping of Modern Britain

Hosted by the International Inequalities Institute

Watch the videoListen to the podcast

Speaker: Simon Kuper, Writer, Financial Times and Author, Chums 

Discussants: Professor Jane Gingrich, Professor in Comparative Political Economy, University of Oxford;
Professor Mike Savage, Martin White Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Convenor, Wealth, Elites and Tax Justice Research programme, LSE III 

Chair: Professor Neil Lee, Professor of Economic Geography,  and Convenor, Cities, Jobs and Economic Change Research programme, LSE III 


How Can We Create Good Jobs in a Time of Crisis? 

Hosted by LSE Festival: How Do We Get to a Post-COVID World?

Tuesday 14 June 2022 1:00pm to 2:00pm. Online and in-person public event. 

Watch the video. Listen to the podcast

Speakers: Dr Carl Benedikt Frey, Oxford Martin Citi Fellow, Institute for New Economic Thinking and Director, Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Work, University of Oxford; Dr Anna Valero, Senior Policy Fellow, Centre for Economic Performance, Deputy Director of the Programme on Innovation and Diffusion (POID) and Associate, Grantham Research Institute, LSE; Rebecca McDonald, Head of Economics, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Chair: Professor Neil Lee, Professor of Economic Geography, and Convenor, Cities, Jobs and Economic Change Research programme, LSE III