It is widely accepted that the UK suffers from a number of persistent weaknesses in areas that are crucial for medium to long-run economic prosperity. Among the starkest examples are certain aspects of skills, investment in infrastructure, house building and development.
Most existing studies in these areas have focused on identifying policy deficiencies and proposing alternative policy solutions while ignoring the underlying politics. Research has begun to address obstacles to the introduction of different sets of policies when change seems appropriate (see our work with the LSE Growth Commission). In the UK, however, this type of study is still rare.
Our report, Political Economy of Growth and Institutional Reform in the UK, aimed to fill these gaps, to give policy makers and civil society at large a wider set of analytical tools to frame debates around institutional reform of growth-relevant policy areas.
The year-long project produced a detailed account of the political economy root-causes of structural weaknesses that hamper growth and of the catalysts of institutional change. It was an interdisciplinary research effort, bridging political economy and political science literatures, to embed the analysis firmly in the idiosyncrasies of the UK macro-political system.
The analysis explored:
- evidence on the nature of entrenched policy dysfunctions in skills, infrastructure and housing
- political economy models of policy failures and their interactions with the Westminster/Whitehall system
- international empirical research looking at conditions required to initiate reforms, their effective development and implementation
- evidence on the origins and mechanics of recent policy innovation in the UK, including changes in the governance of monetary policy, competition policy, and in the design and accountability of fiscal policy.