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Economic well-being and British regions: the problem with GDP per capita

By David Harvie, Bruce Philp, Gary Slater and Dan Wheatley


An earlier draft of this work was presented at the April 2007 Regional Studies Association conference, in Lisbon.Economists and policy-makers often present per capita GDP as by far the most significant\ud indicator of economic well-being. Such measures are frequently adopted in making\ud international comparisons, constructing time-series for particular countries and in studies of regional inequality. In this paper we challenge this view using a regional analysis of 2001 data focusing upon differences between London and the south-eastern regions, in comparison to the rest of Great Britain (GB). Initially GDP per capita is decomposed into the demographic and labour-market factors which generate it. Thereafter we broaden the notion of work-time used in productivity measures to include other necessary work-related activity, namely commuting. This leads to us to construct a new indicator which we call social productivity. Our conclusion is that our decomposition and notion of social productivity are both relevant in comparisons of regional well-being; in addition such methods may be used\ud fruitfully in international and historical contexts

Year: 2007
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