From helping the city to capitalise on exciting opportunities such as the 2012 Olympics to supporting understanding of terror attacks and riots in the capital, LSE research engages with many of the most pertinent and pressing issues facing London. Our work contributes to the London Plan - the overall strategic plan setting out an integrated economic, environmental, transport and social framework for the development of London over the next 20-25 years.
Researchers provide unique insights into the city’s democratic and political processes in work on, among other things, London Mayoral elections and the potential for its devolution; on migrant trajectories and the contribution of migrants to grow London; its suburbs, green spaces and use of land; and the economic strength and resilience of its boroughs.
In 2015, Professor Tony Travers, Director of the School’s LSE London research group, published London's Boroughs at 50, an acclaimed and erudite history of the governing system that developed alongside the growing metropolis, and of the city itself.
Alongside books for public audiences, LSE researchers use academic publications, policy papers, collaborative projects with practitioners and stakeholders, and talks and roundtables with professionals and members of the public to address some of London’s biggest challenges. In recent years this has particularly included work on the following major issues:
London’s housing crisis
The housing crisis in London is a real and multifaceted problem, but responses to it have generally been incoherent and weakly evidenced. LSE research has made a significant contribution to the evidence base required to for a more effective response. This has included work on housing density, which underpinned the Mayor of London’s 2016 Density Review; house prices and the effects of policy measures on the private rented sector and Buy-to-Let; alternative housing models; investment in affordable housing; and ways to accelerate the development of new residential homes.
In 2016 the School published Rising to the Challenge, which consolidated and contextualised key insights and recommendations from research on the housing crisis in the context of changing economic and political circumstances. Here and elsewhere, the role of and effects of overseas investment is a major theme in LSE research on housing in London.
In December 2016 the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, asked LSE to conduct the UK’s most comprehensive inquiry into the impact of foreign investment, amid growing fears about rising housing costs in the capital. The research looked particularly at how many new homes are sold to buyers based overseas, how many are kept empty and developers’ reliance on foreign buyers.
Much of this work is carried out by researchers in LSE London, established in 1998 as a centre of research excellence on the economic and social issues of the London region, as well as the problems and possibilities of other urban and metropolitan regions.
Today the centre has a strong international reputation particularly in the fields of labour markets, social and demographic change, housing, finance and governance, and is the leading academic centre for analyses of city-wide developments in London.
Inequality and social exclusion
The LSE’s longstanding and wide-ranging expertise on inequality and social exclusion encompasses research on spatial inequalities within London and between the capital and other UK cities; on the effects of local government spending cuts on London; and on the relationship between ethnic diversity and economic productivity on London’s high streets.
Researchers in the School’s Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion have published comprehensive reviews of prosperity, poverty and inequality in London and changes in economic inequality in the capital during the first decade or so of the new millennium.
These and other reports were produced as part of the School’s Social Policy in a Cold Climate, which examined the effects of the major economic and political changes in the UK since 2007. The research has played an important role in understanding the effects of those changes on the distribution of wealth, poverty, inequality and social mobility in London specifically as well as in the UK more widely.
Configuring Light, an innovative programme of Department of Sociology research and engagement, has explored the ways in which the lighting of social housing estates reinforces rising levels of inequalities within cities, and especially within London.
Through work illustrating the effects of lighting on perceptions of the safety and value of an area, and subsequently on segregations within cities, the researchers have delivered new strategies to tackle lighting inequalities. These strategies were created with – and are now being put into practice by – housing estate managers and lighting professionals, as well as with the residents of social housing estates in the capital.
The LSE Library is also home to Charles Booth’s famous London poverty maps and police notebooks. Its Charles Booth’s London archive allows readers to access and search a catalogue of more than 450 original notebooks from the Inquiry into Life and Labour in London (1886-1903), view 41 digitalised notebooks and explore the London poverty maps.
Most recently, LSE research has been helping policy-makers and public audiences understand the potential effects of Brexit, both on the UK as a whole and on London more specifically.
This has included work by Simeon Djankov, executive director of the School’s Financial Markets Group and former deputy prime minister and minister of finance of Bulgaria, who has published one of the very few rigorous analyses to date of the possible effects of Brexit on the City of London.
Work on the local economic effects of Brexit – including on London – has also been conducted by researchers in the School’s Centre for Economic Performance, whose papers are used regularly and widely by policy-makers across and beyond the UK.