The Economics of Devolution/Decentralisation in the UK : Some Questions and Answers

McGregor, Peter G and Swales, J Kim (2003) The Economics of Devolution/Decentralisation in the UK : Some Questions and Answers. Discussion paper. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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Abstract

In this paper we provide a non-technical account of recent research relevant to the economics of devolution/ decentralisation in the UK. We proceed by exploring a series of questions and answers intended to highlight the implications of this recent research for the conduct of regional and national policy. We organise the questions and answers into four main sections dealing with: the nature of devolution/decentralisation in the UK; government expenditure; taxation and economic development issues. While our focus is on the UK, the Scottish case figures rather prominently for two reasons. First, and very pragmatically, Scotland has been the initial focus of much of our own research. Second, and more compelling, Scotland effectively serves as a natural “laboratory” for the study of devolution in the UK, given the asymmetrical distribution of powers in favour of the Scottish Parliament, and the continuing lively debate on greater fiscal autonomy and independence there. However, where appropriate we refer to other European and North American experience