03A typology of city centres and suburbs
In order to explore the factors that shape the nature of the export base in cities, the size and skills profile of the export base is used to categorise city centres and suburbs into four groups:
A. Large, high-knowledge export base
B. Large, low-knowledge export base
C. Small, high-knowledge export base
D. Small, low-knowledge export base
The typology – set out in Figure 5 – provides insights that enable us to examine the nature of the export base in cities and the factors that explain their location in more detail. It is worth reflecting first though on the patterns that emerge when the city centres and suburbs are compared based on the skills profile of the export base.
The typology highlights the inherent linkages between city centres and suburbs within cities. Cities with a high-knowledge export base in their city centre are more likely to have a high-knowledge export base in their suburbs, and vice versa. And very few cities have high-knowledge export base in their suburbs without also having one in their city centres.
- Group A: 19 cities have high-knowledge city centres and suburbs. These cities which include Reading, Slough, Milton Keynes and Swindon tend to be located in the South. Leeds and York stand out as the only two cities in the North falling into this category.
- Group B: 10 cities have high-knowledge city centres and low-knowledge suburbs. This includes six of the core cities, along with Coventry, Crawley, Plymouth and Telford.
- Group C: Five cities have low-knowledge city centres and high-knowledge suburbs. These include Basildon, Blackpool, Derby, Portsmouth and Warrington.
- Group D: 24 cities have low-knowledge city centres and suburbs. These cities are predominantly in the North, Midlands and Wales but also include Chatham, Ipswich, Luton and Southend in the Greater South East.
The nature of the export base has a bearing on the economic performance of cities. This is evident across the four broad groups: Group A cities (high-knowledge city centres and suburbs) are 45 per cent more productive than Group D cities (low-knowledge city centres and suburbs).
Box 3: Developing a typology for city centres and suburbs
Our typology involved categorising city centres and suburbs into four groups, depending on the size of their export base sector and the skill profile of the exporting jobs.
Arriving at the category within the typology involved the following steps:
- Using Business Structure Database to calculate the unweighted average size of export base in city centres/suburbs of cities across England and Wales.
- Allocate city centres/suburbs into the large and small export base categories depending on whether their export base is larger or smaller than city centres/suburbs average.
- Using Census 2011 Occupation by industry data, calculate the unweighted average share of knowledge-exporting jobs in all exporting jobs in city centres/suburbs across England and Wales.
- Allocate city centres/suburbs into the high and low-knowledge categories depending on whether they have a higher or lower than average share of knowledge-exporting jobs.
If the industrial strategy is to be successful in boosting the UK’s productivity and economic growth,then helping the UK’s urban export base to grow will be an important feature of its approach. But it will also need to be sufficiently flexible to respond to the variation in the export base seen across cities. A policy approach that is appropriate for cities with small, low-knowledge export base is likely to be very different to the one that is appropriate for cities with large, high-knowledge export base.