City, Housing, Economic Systems and Transport
Dr Allison M Orr
Urbanisation has been one of the most prominent features of economic and social development over the past century. Unprecedented rural to urban migration in many countries has coincided with urban decline and depopulation in others. These significant and on-going changes to human economic geography across the world pose major challenges for housing, real estate investment, social cohesion, transport and sustainability.
Social segregation and inequality, housing affordability, de-industrialisation/restructuring, disruptive technologies, sustainability and climate change, and their implications for the allocation of land, local governance, transport and information infrastructures, housing systems and the efficiency and growth of urban economy will profoundly affect the resilience of cities to these problems and the long term social welfare of urban households. Understanding these challenges, processes and interconnections, is therefore an important research remit.
The City, Housing and Economic Systems and Transport group brings together researchers exploring topics clustered around the following core urban economics themes:
Housing Systems, Markets and Finance
This theme includes evidence-based research on the demand for housing (demographic and economic drivers, understanding buyer behaviour), housing supply (price elasticity of supply, new construction), housing finance (mortgage markets and social housing finance), and the nature of housing systems and markets (including efficiency, house price measurement and submarkets).
The work undertaken by our housing system researchers extends to The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) consortium which is led by the University of Glasgow.
Retail and Commercial Real Estate
Our real estate researchers are investigating the land use changes occurring within the urban built environment, and the factors that shape the decision-making processes of investors, users and developers. Particular research interests for the group include explorations into the adoption and use of sustainable commercial space, and the effects of structural changes in retailing on the use, ownership and re-development of property within retailing centres.
Economics of Urban Social Problems
This theme includes research on the economics of urban crime, residential segregation and sorting processes, modelling neighbourhood effects (particularly the impact on education, employment and health).
This research area is concerned with the behaviour of transport users, and involves researchers modelling the wider impacts of transportation infrastructure. Researchers are particularly interested in finding ways to improve the design and efficiency of transport networks and encourage greater use of active modes of transport.
Urban Big Data
This theme, while cutting across the other four core themes and drawing on expertise in the Big Urban Data Centre, involves the use of new and novel form of big data and the development of urban informatics techniques (such as remote sensing, artificial intelligence and big data systems) to examine the contemporary challenges facing our towns and cities.
Regional Density Functions and Regional Boundaries
Exploring the use of the density function as a means for examining the spatial structure of a region.
- Professor John B Parr Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
- Darryl Holden Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde
October 2009 to date
Parr, J. B. and Holden, D. (2013) The regional density function and the definition of regional boundaries (submitted).
Parr, J. B. and Holden, D. (2013) A note on the average density function in urban analysis, Urban Studies, 50 (forthcoming).
Spatial Structure Contrasts between Urban and Regional Systems
Aiming to impose a common framework on these two national systems, enabling their spatial structures to be compared.
Professor John B Parr Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
April 2008 to date
Parr, J. B. (2012) Spatial-structure differences between urban and regional systems, Annals of Regional Science, 49.2, 293-303.
Parr, J. B. (2013) Cities and regions as contrasts in spatial organisation (submitted)
Parr, J. B. (2013) Exploring the urban system of von Thünen (submitted)
The Value of Planning
Planning is often justified on social and environmental grounds, but what are its economic costs and benefits? Does a planning system make society more or less prosperous? How are its costs and benefits distributed spatially, over time and between different groups? These are important and indeed controversial questions that deserve careful consideration and which provide the focus for this research project.
- Prof David Adams Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
- Prof Craig Watkins Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield
October 2013 to June 2014
Royal Town Planning Institute (£25,000)
Evidence Review of the Impacts of UK Welfare Reform Affecting Housing
The UK Coalition Government’s welfare reforms initiated in 2010, the following Treasury Spending Reviews and the 2012 Welfare Reform Act, have had profound effects on society, not least through the major changes targeted at working age households and their housing costs. Reforms to Housing Benefit in the private rented sector and social housing, including the under-occupation charge (colloquially known as the ‘bedroom tax’) and the proposals for Universal Credit, among other changes, are thought to be having profound effects on low income families. This evidence review seeks to draw on what we know and do not know from UK studies to date in order to assist the Scottish Government better understand the nature and consequences of welfare reform for housing in Scotland.
January 2014 to May 2014
Scottish Government Communities Analytical Services
Housing and Work Incentives
In a time of austerity and dramatic welfare reform, there is much policy interest in work incentives, taking people off benefits and ‘making work pay’. This project seeks to contribute to that debate by examining the role housing plays towards either incentivising or creating barriers to work and also the quality and nature of work that people take. The project involves an evidence review, economic modelling of work incentives and their drivers, and four deep qualitative case studies in contrasting labour market contexts.
- Prof Kenneth D Gibb (Urban Studies, University of Glasgow)
- Dr Sharon Wright (Urban Studies, University of Glasgow)
- Prof Mark Stephens (Heriot Watt University)
- Dr Darja Reuschke (University of St Andrews)
- Dr Kirsten Besemer (Heriot Watt university)
- Dr Filip Sosenko (Heriot Watt University)
January 2014 to December 2014
Joseph Rowntree Foundation (£70,000)
The Implicit Pricing of Property Attributes
This project examines the pricing of office investments and investigates which attributes have significant effects on investment yields.
- Prof N Crosby (School of Real Estate and Planning, University of Reading)
- Dr C Jackson (Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield)
- Dr A M Orr (Urban Studies, School of Social and Political Science, University of Glasgow)
RICS Education Trust