Growth, skills and education are the keys to inclusive regional development, says OECD


06/12/2012 - Vibrant and dynamic urban centers are among the main drivers of national growth and employment, but OECD’s new report Promoting Growth in All Regions highlights that even less wealthy regions have the potential to bolster stronger, greener, and more inclusive economies.


Promoting Growth in All Regions contains case studies of 23 regions1 in which income was below the national average 15 years ago. Since then, half of these regions have grown and prospered above national standards, while the others have fallen further behind. Comparing the outcome of the policies used by thriving regions with those of the laggards, the report recommends ways for regional governments to promote business and improve living standards.


“Regions are important catalysts for growth and job creation. As we exit the crisis, governments cannot afford to let some parts of the country lag behind” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. “With the right policies all regions can flourish, giving people in all areas of the country an opportunity to work towards a better life.”


Improving education and skills is all-important. The case studies show that improving skills at the lower end - reducing school drop-out rates, and enhancing vocational training – are as productive as increasing university enrolment. In addition to these measures, the Asturias region in Spain and Durango in Mexico improved co-operation between the private sector and schools to ensure that students graduate with marketable skills.


Many regions count on roads, bridges and ports to create jobs but underdeveloped regions which focus only on improving infrastructure are unlikely to succeed. Though the gains from better infrastructure are higher in underdeveloped regions than in advanced ones, this must be accompanied by improvements in other areas. For example Sachsen Anhalt in Germany and San Luis Potosi in Mexico attained growth rates higher than the national average by simultaneously improving infrastructure, human capital and the policy environment. Wielkopolskie in Poland and Central Transdanubia in Hungary also attained higher growth rates by improving both infrastructure and the business environment.


Finally the case studies show that regions should not depend solely on compensatory grants from national governments but must take control of their own economic futures. Regions such as Brandenburg and Zuid-Netherland have succeeded because they built upon their regional strengths rather than looking for external financing.


To obtain a copy of Promoting Growth in All Regions journalists can e-mail:


For more about the report contact Enrique Garcilazo in the OECD Governance directorate or by telephone: + 331 45 24 86 18.


For further reading on OECD’s work on regional development:



[1] The 23 regions are Aquitaine, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Midi-Pyrénées (France); Asturias (Spain); Brandenburg and Sachsen-Anhalt (Germany); Central Transdanubia (Hungary); Durango, Jalisco, San Luis Potosi, Chiapas, Estado de México and Zacatecas (Mexico); Marche and Sicilia (Italy); Wielkiopolskie, Podlaskie and Lubelskie (Poland); Zuid-Nederland (Netherlands) and Manchester City Region, Leeds City Regions and Tyne and Wear (United Kingdom). 


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