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Regional Economic Resilience, Hysteresis and Recessionary Shocks

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Although the idea of ‘resilience’ has been used for some time in the physical, engineering and ecological sciences, and has found its way into such disciplines as psychology and organisation science, it is only very recently that it has attracted attention from regional analysts, spatial economists and economic geographers. However, there is considerable ambiguity and difference of view as to the precise meaning of the notion of regional or local economic resilience, how it should be measured, whether resilience is a positive or negative attribute, and what it implies for policy intervention. For these and other reasons, some economic geographers remain hesitant about the notion of regional resilience. The response to this hesitancy should not be to rush to dismiss the concept, however, but to devote some effort to try to give it more precision and clarity, and to see how and in what sense it might help inform our understanding of regional economic evolution. This is the aim of this paper. More specifically, my aim is to explore how the notion of ‘resilience’, for example as used in ecological work, can be combined with that of ‘hysteresis’, as used in economics, to examine how regional economies react to recessionary shocks. A particular interest concerns whether and in what ways such shocks have hysteretic impacts on the growth paths of regions. A discussion of conceptual issues is followed by some preliminary empirics relating to the reaction of the British regions to major recessions during the past forty years.

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - main Departmental seminar series series.

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