Regions in change: Unpacking the economic resilience of Swedish labour market regions with respect to different groups of workers
This project investigates the ability of regions to withstand economic shocks and develop new growth paths.
Shifting industrial and occupational structures put regional economic resilience, the ability of regions to withstand shocks and develop new growth paths, at the centre of attention for both academia and policy. In this project we study how the economic structure of regions conditions their resilience. Specifically, we analyse the network representations of local labour markets with respect to their robustness to economic shocks, their ability to provide work for different labour market groups, and their capacity to develop new growth paths in times of crisis and recovery.
Regional economies throughout the Western world face shifting industrial and occupational structures, and income polarisation. Sweden is no exception as growth of jobs and incomes are more and more concentrated in a handful of labour market regions. Consequently, people across an increasing number of regions are experiencing their economic opportunities and welfare provision to be diminishing, which is directly linked to a growing political discontent.
To tackle this problem, growing attention in academia and policy has been directed towards regional resilience. That is, the capacity of regions to withstand economic shocks while also being able to develop new growth paths. Even so, it is still unclear why some regions are more resilient than others. Theoretical arguments were made that understanding networks within regions is key in this respect, but the empirical support is scarce. Additionally, it is largely neglected that regional resilience may conceal more vulnerable labour market groups being systematically left behind during times of crisis and recovery. Finally, there is a lack of connection between studies on resilience and the ability to develop new growth paths.
The aim of this project is therefore to provide systematic evidence on why some regions are more vulnerable to structural pressures than others, as well as on how such pressures could be managed. We do so by analysing the resilience of Swedish labour market regions between 1985 and 2016 using longitudinal micro-data, and applying methods adopted from network science that are novel to regional science. We contribute by answering calls for more network-based studies on regional resilience; by decomposing overall regional resilience with respect to labour market groups; and by connecting more tightly the literatures on regional resilience and the capacity to develop new growth paths. These basic research contributions are also relevant for informing regional policy.