The Regional Studies Association commissioned a grant to develop a risk/recovery regional index. The research is led by:
- Prof. Terry Clower, Director, Center for Regional Analysis, Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University, USA
- Prof. Emeritus Will Rifkin, University of Newcastle, Australia
- Mr Jacob Irving, University of South Australia, Australia
- Dr Keith Waters, George Mason University, USA
The team from George Mason University, the University of South Australia and the University of Newcastle completed collation and analysis of data from several OECD countries on the potential resilience of their regions to recover from impacts of economic shutdowns due to COVID-19. It is recognised that some regions have a greater number of industries that would have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. However, more importantly for this study, certain regions have industries that have in recent years proved to be noticeably dynamic. Those industries, and the regions where they are concentrated, can be expected to bounce back more quickly from COVID-19 impacts.
The number of countries covered in the analysis was limited in the timeframe of the project due to a lack of compatibility of publicly available datasets across countries – a hurdle that was not unexpected. That is, a few countries had trustworthy, relatively precise, and consistent data at the NUTS 3 level (150,000-800,000 population in the region). This data was needed for a specific time period (2015-2018, pre-COVID) for the more dynamic industry sectors being focused on, such as food manufacturing, financial services and air travel. Initial target countries, in addition to the UK and Ireland (presented at the European Week of Regions and Cities conference), include Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Latvia, and the US.
The aspiration is for the PRRET tool developed to enable researchers in other countries to add corresponding data to assess which regions of their own countries might need more economic support for COVID-19 recovery. Additionally, the PRRET tool has the capacity to evolve to reflect lessons learned during the economic recovery process. These lessons could include insights into pandemic-related effects of interest rates, government economic stimulus and telecommuting on regional economies. For example, there was a surprising rise in house prices in certain regions in Australia, which is attributed to a combination of low interest rates, government incentives for the construction industry, and a desire among some people who are working from home to shift out of large cities.