Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED Programme)

The Spatial Productivity Lab at the OECD Trento Centre


What are the mechanisms of regional productivity catch-up? To what extent does aggregate productivity depend on agglomeration economies generated in cities?

Today, globally, there are two major productivity challenges that OECD countries face: decreased growth and increased inequality.

For the Spatial Productivity Lab, the main issue is how regional, rural and urban policy can help find a more inclusive and dynamic system for economic growth. In recent years, the predominant perspective on regional policy has changed. The new regional policy paradigm focuses on growth, competitiveness and well-being; it aims at strengthening the link between regional dimensions and country aggregate outcomes. The regional policy approach has moved away from compensating lagging regions for undesirable effects of macroeconomic conditions and policies to identifying the ways for each region to contribute to aggregate performance via promoting its (productivity) growth potential.

The Spatial Productivity Lab at the OECD Trento Centre participates in the broader OECD work on productivity. It develops analysis around the concept of “spatial productivity” in co-ordination with the OECD Global Forum on Productivity. The work of the Spatial Productivity Lab focuses on mechanisms that support the catching up process of regions and cities that are lagging behind the (national or global) productivity frontier. It assesses to what extent national productivity can be increased through national, regional and local policy measures, e.g. through better policies and governance arrangements that leverage agglomeration economies generated by cities beyond the city itself.


Spatial Productivity Lab papers

The spatial dimension of productivityThe spatial dimension of productivity
Connecting the dots across industries, firms and places
January 2020

This working paper offers a synthesis of the current knowledge on the determinants of productivity. It carefully reviews both “spatial” (e.g. agglomerations, infrastructure, geography) and “aspatial” (e.g. human capital, labour regulations, industry-level innovation and dynamism) productivity drivers and demonstrates how the underlying spatial dynamics behind the latter group makes all productivity determinants “spatial” in nature. The paper demonstrates that productivity is inherently a spatial phenomenon and its understanding without a local/regional dimension is incomplete.


Local ability to rewire and socioeconomic performanceLabour demand weakening during the COVID-19 pandemic in US cities
Stylised facts and factors related to regional resilience
October 2020

This paper explores patterns of short-term labour demand weakening in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) of the United States and the associated regional factors. The paper considers online job vacancy postings in February-June 2020. The data show that in larger MSAs, online job postings contracted more and the recovery was slower compared to smaller MSAs. Non-tradable service occupations, particularly those involving face-to-face interactions, contracted the most. The regression analysis reveals that different metropolitan characteristics were associated with the initial drop (February-April) and the recovery (May-June) in online job posting.

Local ability to rewire and socioeconomic performanceLocal ability to rewire and socioeconomic performance
Evidence from US counties before and after the Great Recession
May 2020

The paper examines the effects of three groups of factors (county economic structure, social/demographic attributes and geography) on employment growth and poverty change in US counties before and after the Great Recession. It finds that the industrial structure that facilitates inter-industry employee flows (“rewiring”) is of increasing importance post-Recession. In particular, this measure is associated with employment growth in under-performing counties suggesting that removing barriers to the flow of resources within lagging economies and increasing their adaptability potential might be a viable policy option.


Local ability to rewire and socioeconomic performanceThe geography of Swedish SMEs’ investments
Financial constraints across the urban-rural hierarchy in a wealthy country with low regional disparities
October 2020

This paper advances our knowledge of the spatial determinants of productivity by empirically demonstrating one such mechanism – clear differences along the urban-rural continuum in the sensitivity of SMEs’ investments to own cash flow. Whereas the literature has established uneven availability of credit across space, the evidence on whether this translates into differences in actual business investments remains scarce. We answer this question in the context of Sweden – a highly digitalised country with low regional inequalities. We find that the world of financing is not yet flat for the majority of Swedish SMEs. Companies located in non-metro regions are most dependent on own cash flow in their investments. 

Presentations and background readings


💬 Exploring policy options on teleworking- Mattia Corbetta, OECD
September 2020

💬 Short-term economic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak. First insights on OECD regions - Paolo Veneri, OECD
May 2020

💬 Italian regions’ SME policy responses in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic - Mattia Corbetta, OECD
May 2020

💬 Regional trends in labour demand across regions. Preliminary insights from on-line job postings - Alexandra Tsvetkova, OECD
May 2020

💬 Economic profile with a focus on R&D-intensive industries - Province of Trento 2012-2016 - Alexandra Tsvetkova, OECD
December 2019

💬 Setting the scene: The spatial dimension of productivity - Alexandra Tsvetkova, OECD
October 2019

💬 Ageing and productivity growth in OECD regions - Federica Daniele, OECD
April 2019

📘 OECD Regional Outlook 2019: Leveraging Megatrends for cities and rural areas
March 2019

💬 Presentations from the OECD workshop on spatial dimensions of productivity
March 2019

💬 OECD Regions and Cities at a Glance 2018 - Overview - Rudiger Ahrend, OECD 
December 2018

💬 Regional productivity catching up: the role of EU cohesion policy and the OECD perspective - Alexander Lembcke, OECD
June 2018

📘 Productivity and jobs in a globalised world - (How) Can all regions benefit?
April 2018

💬 The contribution of regions to the productivity of nations - Joaquim Oliveira Martins, OECD 
February 2018

💬 Regional and metropolitan data and tools - Eric Gonnard, OECD
February 2018

📘 Better use of skills in the workplace -  Why it matters for productivity and local jobs
November 2017

📘 What makes cities more productive? Evidence on the role of urban governance from five OECD Countries
February 2017

📘 Does it pay to live in big(ger) cities? The role of agglomeration benefits, local amenities, and costs of living
December 2016

📘 OECD Regional Outlook 2016: Productive regions for inclusive societies
October 2016

📘 OECD Global Forum on Productivity library
November 2015 - Ongoing 



💬 Effects of economic incentives on business start ups in the US: County level evidence -Carlianne Patrick, Georgia State University, US
October 2020

💬 Subsidies for innovative start ups and firm entry - Antonio Accetturo, Bank of Italy - Trento branch
October 2020

💬 Teleworkability and the COVID-19 crisis: A new digital divide? Matteo Sostero, Joint Research Centre, EC
September 2020

💬 Homeworking and its effect on productivity and wellbeing - Darja Reuschke, University of Southampton, UK
September 2020

💬 Teleworking and mobility: What do we (think we) know and not know? patricia Mokhtarian, Georgia Institute of Technology, US
September 2020

💬 Compliance with COVID-19 social-distancing measures in Italy - Mirco Tonin, Free Univesity of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy
May 2020

💬 Building, embedding and reshaping Global Value Chains through investment flows - Oliver Harman, Oxford University, UK
February 2020

💬 Speeding up and scaling up firm growth: An investigation of the organisational, industry and regional drivers - Maksim Belitski, Reading University, UK
February 2020

💬 Macroeconomic trends in Italy and in Trentino - Jasmine Mondolo, University of Trento, Italy
December 2019

💬 Recent economic trends in Trentino and South Tyro - Antonio Accetturo, Bank of Italy - Trento branch
December 2019

💬 Migration, communities on the move and international innovation networks: An empirical analysis of Spanish regions - Sandro Montesor, Gran Sasso Science Institute, L'Aquila, Italy
October 2019

💬 The big European sort? The diverging fortunes of Europe's regions - John Springford, Centre for European Reform, UK
October 2019

💬 Urban regeneration, economic stimulation and social innovation in the context of industrial transitions: Insights from Porto Marghera (Venice) - Claudia Faraone, IUAV University of Venice, Italy
October 2019

📘 Local development, urban economies and aggregate growth in Italy (Italian version here)
April 2019

💬 Fluctuations of employment across age and gender - Enrico Zaninotto, University of Trento, Italy
April 2019

💬 Natural disasters and firm resilience in Italian industrial districts - Giuseppe Vittucci Marzetti, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
February 2019

💬 Resilience in Italian Inner Areas - Marco Modica, Gran Sasso Science Institute, L'Aquila, Italy
February 2019

💬 Urban development, agglomerations, and aggregate growth in Italy - Antonio Accetturo, Bank of Italy – Trento branch
December 2018

💬 The Impact of new technologies on jobs and their effects on local economies - Philip McCann, University of Sheffield Management School, UK
June 2018

💬 Regional productivity catching up: the role of EU cohesion policy and the OECD perspective - Lewis Dijkstra, DG for Regional and Urban Policy
June 2018

💬 Building competitiveness and innovative capacity through culture and creativity - Pierluigi Sacco, IRVAPP
June 2018

📘 Ageing workforce and productivity: The unintended effects of retirement regulation in Italy 
October 2017

📘 Management practices, environmental conditions and productive efficiency in the service industry. An empirical study of the hotel industry in Trentino (Italian only)
January 2011

📘 New studies on growth and productivity in Trentino (Italian only)
March 2010

📘 Economic growth and productivity: Measurements and applications - The case of the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italian only)
September 2008 



11th SPL meeting: Recent socioeconomic trends in Trentino and Alto-Adige/South Tyrol (Italy)
10 December 2020 | DIGITAL EVENT

10th SPL meeting: Business incentives and firm entry - The past, the present and the future
29 October 2020 | DIGITAL EVENT

9th SPL meeting: The new reality of teleworking - People, firms, places
3 September 2020 | DIGITAL EVENT

8th SPL meeting: The world changed by COVID-19 - Policy, economy, society
7 May 2020 | DIGITAL EVENT

CALL FOR PAPERS: OECD Spatial Productivity Lab Special Sessions at the 60th ERSA Congress
Deadline 2 March 2020

7th SPL meeting: Spatial productivity for regional and local development
20 February 2020 | Trento, Italy

5th GeoInno Conference: OECD Spatial Productivity Lab Policy Sessions
30 January 2020 | Stavenger, Norway

6th SPL meeting: Spatial productivity for regional and local development
11 December 2019 | Trento, Italy

5th SPL meeting: Spatial productivity for regional and local development
10 October 2019 | Venice, Italy

59th ERSA Congress: OECD Spatial Productivity Lab Special Sessions
27-30 August 2019 | Lyon, France

4th SPL meeting: Spatial productivity for regional and local development
17 April 2019 | Trento, Italy

Workshop: Spatial dimensions of productivity
28-29 March 2019 | Bolzano, Italy

3rd SPL meeting: Spatial productivity for regional and local development
7 February 2019 | Trento, Italy

OECD ERSA Winter School: Spatial productivity for regional and local development
21-25 January 2019 | Trento, Italy

2nd SPL meeting: Spatial productivity for regional and local development
4 December 2018 | Trento, Italy

Workshop: Regional productivity catching up - The role of the EU cohesion policies and the OECD perspective 
3 June 2018 - 9.30 | Trento, Italy

Workshop: The determinants of job polarisation - Lessons from the Dutch local labour markets
2 June 2018 - 18.30 | Trento, Italy

Policy panel: Technology & Jobs, a perspective across levels of government
2 June 2018 - 15.00 | Trento, Italy

Key note lecture: Impact of new technologies on jobs and its effect on local economies
2 June 2018 - 11.00 | Trento, Italy

Workshop: Technology and work - The rise of Cultural and Creative Industries
1 June 2018 - 18.30 | Trento, Italy

1st SPL meeting: The contribution of regions to the productivity of nations
21 February 2018 - 14.00 | Trento, Italy







The Network

This activity is implemented in co-operation with national institutions in Italy and in interested OECD countries; as well as with regional authorities of Trentino Alto Adige Sudtirol, other regions in Italy and other OECD countries. The research team includes economists and related researchers detached from OECD and other relevant research centres, universities in Italy and internationally.

The OECD SPL Team 

Interested in partnering with the Trento Centre Spatial Productivity Lab? Contact us    




‌ School of International Studies - Trento University Ispat ‌ ‌‌ 

Brescia University‌ 
Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum Sheffield University Management School  Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy - Ohio State University