Urban and regional economics

The research group «Urban and regional economics» focuses on economic problems where the spatial dimension is important in discussing and explaining observed relationships.

Thematically, this is a broadly defined research group. Urban and regional economics is chosen as a major title for a range of topics on which we have been working. Such topics are reflected in the study programme of HVL, as we have for instance been responsible for developing the profile “Regional economics and innovation” in the Master of Science in Business that is offered from the fall of 2020.

Within this research area, this group has primarily concentrated its research to topics directed towards

  • regional labour markets
  • housing markets in regions and in urban areas
  • spatial interaction, represented by intra-area commuting and interregional migration
  • the importance of the transportation infrastructure network in a process of regional development
  • the impact of regionally differentiated payroll tax on the proportion of self-employed and their choice of organizational form

Regarding regional labour markets, we have for example been studying causes and consequences of regional disparities in wages and unemployment rates, and how workers respond to local disparities in the growth and diversity of job opportunities.

In studying housing markets, we have been focussing on how housing prices at different locations reflect spatial characteristics, like the distance from the central business district, and the accessibility of job opportunities in the regional labour market. In addition, we have been studying how different local amenities and urban renewal programs are reflected in housing prices, and we have been studying the impact on housing prices of the tendency that different population groups are spatially segregated. The segregation may for instance be according to country background.

We have further done several studies of commuting and migration in different regions, for instance to explain adjustments to disequilibrium situations in labour and housing markets.

In studying the impact of the transportation network, we have primarily been focussing on cases where ferry connections have been substituted by bridges and tunnels. We have predicted the impact of such investments on the spatial distribution of jobs and residents, as well as on the generated traffic. In addition, we have been studying the impact of an improved road network on the spatial disparities in unemployment, wages, and housing prices, and in general how transportation investments affect local and regional economic growth. We have also done research on the impact of road pricing, both to monitor traffic in a congested urban area, and to fund bridges and tunnels.

In addition, our research focuses on methodological issues:

  • spatial econometrics; in our data, spatial dependence between observations is the rule rather than the exception. We have been working on how to identify and adjust for such spatial dependencies.
  • modelling and estimating basic mechanisms in a process of regional growth
  • the formulation of general spatial equilibrium models for an economy like the Norwegian, and applications of agent-based approaches, involving microsimulations

Ongoing projects

From the spring 2020 and the subsequent three years, our research group will be engaged in the project «Life at the frontier. The impact of Social Frontiers on the Social Mobility and Integration of Migrants». This project is funded by Nordforsk, and established through a collaboration with research groups in the UK and Sweden. Liv Osland is in charge of the project locally.

In this research of the labour market and the local environment, there is still a spatial dimension. However, the project is focussing on social rather than spatial mobility, and how social disparities in neighbourhoods affect the living conditions and opportunities of immigrant groups, compared to the population in general.

Contact information

Head of Research Group: