15 May 2020 - 15 Jul 2020 All day Blogged conference



Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Research Associate, CRASSH (University of Cambridge)

Michael Kenny, Professor of Public Policy, POLIS  (University of Cambridge)



When and why did the expertise and knowledge of economists become so highly valued in the world of public policy?

The blogged conference explores this question in relation to the development of policy thinking towards cities in the last few decades, and considers some of the main implications of economic theory for urban policy in countries like the US, France and the UK. It also examines other social science perspectives upon cities, and evaluates the efforts of a number of leading economists in the last 20 years to develop a more spatially aware body of thinking.  And, in addition, it asks what kinds of policies are most appropriate for cities when there is growing criticism of the implications of public policies based on the value of agglomeration.

Economists in the City aims to bring together historians of economics, economists, urban policy experts and social scientists to explore these issues. It will provide an opportunity for us to consider why and how over the last 20 years the knowledge-claims of some economists have moved from academe into the world of policy-making, and whether a counter-reaction to this form of expertise is now underway.
This is an interactive blogged conference, with the opportunity to comment on blog posts contributed by the participants.

See ‘Programme’ for the list of contributors and blog posts.


Blog posts


Posts can be found on the Centre for Humanities and Social Change website.

After publication of all the blog posts, contributors will have the opportunity to comment in response, and offer a reflection of some of the key debates and issues.

Economists in the City: Reconsidering the History of Urban Policy Expertise: An introduction

Mike Kenny and Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche

Cities and Space: Towards a History of ‘Urban Economics’

Béatrice Cherrier & Anthony Rebours

From Cities to Nations: Jane Jacobs’ Thinking about Economic Expansion

Cédric Philadelphe Divry

The Institutionalization of Regional Science

Anthony Rebours

Urban Agglomeration, City Size and Productivity: Are Bigger, More Dense Cities Necessarily More Productive?

Ron Martin

Technology as a Driver of Agglomeration

Diane Coyle

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