Academic network to focus on UK productivity

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A new national research network that will provide fresh insights into factors affecting the UK’s productivity has been launched by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Professor Katerina Lisenkova, Head of Economic Modelling in the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) at the University of Strathclyde is among a group of academics from across the country who will combine their expertise to investigate why the UK’s productivity has been so weak in recent years.

Economic growth

Productivity – the output per hour by workers – is a key driver of economic growth but hasn’t increased above pre-2008 levels.

The Productivity Insights Network will assess the state of productivity research in the UK, improve understanding of the factors affecting productivity and inform the development of new strategies and research.

Professor Lisenkova said: “The Fraser of Allander Institute team is excited to be part of the Productivity Insights Network funded by the ESRC. This is an extremely timely investment and we welcome an opportunity to contribute to solving the UK productivity puzzle.

“The Productivity Insights Network aims to be the leading voice in the UK on productivity theory and empirics, and to improve the foundations of UK productivity-related policy-making which are best-tailored to the specifics of the UK.

“To do this the Productivity Insights Network will integrate within a place-based perspective various different approaches to examining UK productivity, including organisation-specific, industry-specific, institution-specific and technology-specific approaches.

“I will be leading the Health, Well-being, Ageing and Demographic Change theme within the Network. Issues of health, wellbeing and demographics have only relatively recently become understood as being inextricably related to productivity and is an under-researched area.”

Dr Annie Gibney, Senior Portfolio Manager in charge of the ESRC’s productivity priority said: “As a community of social scientists we must work hard to crack the UK's productivity puzzle of exceptionally weak growth when compared to international competitors.

We hope this new network will do wonderful work to help improve our understanding of productivity, and take us a step further towards sustainable and inclusive economic growth."

In its latest Economic Commentary, published in December 2017, the FAI said it expects productivity in Scotland to pick up in coming years, albeit to remain low by historical standards.

Professors Philip McCann and Tim Vorley at the University of Sheffield will lead the network which also includes the universities of Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Leeds and Essex. The network also has two private sector partners: Cambridge Econometrics and SQW.