Regions Matter

Economic Recovery, Innovation and Sustainable Growth

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Why do some regions grow faster than others, and in ways that do not always conform to economic theory? This is a central issue in today’s economic climate, when policy makers are looking for ways to stimulate new and sustainable growth. OECD work suggests that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to regional growth policy. Rather, regions grow in very varied ways and the simple concentration of resources in a place is not sufficient for long-term growth. This report draws on OECD analysis of regional data (including where growth happens, country-by-country), policy reviews and case studies. It argues that it is how investments are made, regional assets used and synergies exploited that can make the difference. Public investment should prioritise longer-term impacts on productivity growth and combine measures in an integrated way. This suggests an important role for regional policies in shaping growth and economic recovery policies, but also challenges policy makers to implement policy reforms.

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In the aftermath of the financial crisis, and against the background of a prolonged economic recession, the first priority for policy makers across the OECD and beyond has been to strengthen the world’s financial system. The next challenge is to support demand and employment creation during the recession in a manner that helps the subsequent recovery to be swift, smooth and durable, as exemplified by the current emphasis on green growth. Regional policies should contribute to this unfolding policy agenda. With this in mind, this report looks at patterns of regional growth across OECD countries, reviews the rationale for regional policies and explores current policy practice. The objective of the report is to identify ways that regional policies can be made more effective in meeting current and future economic, social and environmental challenges.

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