The North-South Divide in the United Kingdom - Impact of Regional Disparities on Structural Change in Liverpool

Term Paper, 2011

13 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

1. Introduction
1.1. Historical Approach
1.2. Problem Definition

2. The North-South Divide in the UK - A Challenge for Liverpool’s Development?
2.1. Causative Factors of the Divide
2.1.1. Industrial Decline and Loss of Export Markets
2.1.2. Globalization and Pro-European Attitude
2.1.3. Dominance of London and Tertiarization
2.2. Implications of the Divide: Some Fact and Figures
2.3. The Core-Periphery Model - A Possible Explanation?

3. Conclusion


List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1. Introduction

1.1. Historical Approach

Since Great Britain is assumed to be the birthplace of Industrial Revolution, for Liverpool the prospects for attaining wealth and prosperity have never been higher. Its geographical and sea-sided location in the northwest of England enabled taking advantage of the sectoral shift to industrialization to the full extent. On the “right” side of the British Empire, the port of Liverpool played a leading role in the Atlantic Triangular Trade during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Thus, as the country’s key gateway to the Atlantic and the world, Liver- pool became a pioneer in industrialization and in consequence one of the richest cities in Britain.1

Even so, after it was hidden by a long term and continuous decline, primarily initiated by historical trends such as containerization, deindustrialization and globalization as from the mid-20th century, today doubtless little remained from Liverpool’s glamorous days.2

1.2. Problem Definition

“ A country that wants to seize its location advantages therefore must adapt. It must make good on the burdens which the global economic structural change imposes on it and must take advantage of the opportunities that accrue to it from the changed situation."3

Even though the United Kingdom is, once again, considered as the trailblazer in transforming its economical structure4, especially Liverpool still has serious problems to seize the opportunities of this restructuring by responding with an appropriate adaptation process. But why does Liverpool had or has such great hurdles to overcome the challenge of restructuring compared to other cities? This question, indeed, cannot be answered conclusively and undisputed, as the impediments are multifaceted and locally have not been subject to extensive research and study, for instance by the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. Further on, the process of change is still far from completed.

While setting out possible reasons in this paper, the focus will be on spatial factors, as it is conspicuous that regional disparities in the United Kingdom emerged, inter alia, at the expense of the Merseyside region’s development.

Therefore it is interesting whether and to what extent spatial differences, reflected in a North-South-Divide and in particular in London’s dominance, had or still has an influence on Liverpool’s process of structural change. Particular attention will be paid on identification of possible causes of the emergence and even widening of this distinct gap. Before presenting the Core-Periphery Model as a useful explanation for the divide, the findings will be rounded off by some economic fact and figures.

2. The North-South Divide in UK - A Challenge for Liverpool’s Development?

With increasing tertiarization coupled with decline in traditional leading industries, formerly important centres of industrial production lose their means of existence. High levels of unemployment, decreasing population and financial suffering are the consequences.5 This makes structural policy even more important in order to support effectively and efficiently the required adaptation to the changed conditions.

That course initially applies for all industrial heartlands. But in the case of Liverpool, the long lasting socioeconomic crisis is strongly linked to an existing national problem within the UK. As the country’s sectoral restructuring of the economy was concentrated on certain main regions, a distinct North-South Gap between the prospering south and the old indus- trial and structurally weak northern regions emerged.6 This cleavage can be seen as the result of a number of overlapping and interacting factors, which as a whole hampered the region’s, and especially Liverpool’s, further development. Although this phenomenon is originally not caused by location factors alone, but by social and political forces, in the end it led to spatial disparities and weakened the location Liverpool. Due to this resulting dis- advantageous location, attracting new economies, coping with structural change and thus ensuring economic stability becomes a challenge for Liverpool.

2.1. Causative Factors of the Divide

Some possible causes that favoured an emergence of a North-South7 gap will be introduced in the following. As far as practicable, political aspects will not be taken into detailed con- sideration.8

2.1.1. Industrial Decline and Loss of Export Markets

First of all, it must be admitted that deindustrialization hit the northern regions signifi- cantly stronger than the south, as their economy was primarily based on industries that were the key pillars of the Industrial Revolution and therefore were the first to fall. On the contrary, the mixture of industry in the South, for instance in London, was more robust to industrial decline than Liverpool’s industrial base. Instead of textile, iron and steel, and maritime London’s industrial environment was characterized by highly specialized indus- trial clusters most notably reliant on consumer goods, especially electronics and food.9 In addition, London was not only up to manufacturing, but a substantial part of the output could be even marketed locally10, whereas Liverpool was strongly dependent on external markets.

And precisely this dependence was another vulnerable point of Liverpool. The majority of the Non-European trade was handled in the port of Liverpool. As after World War II more and more British colonies became independent, important export markets were also lost.11 The situation was further aggravated due to emerging competition from growing industrial nations like Japan.12

So that along with all these and further radical changes in shipping technology13, it was Liverpool that was most affected by the changed situation, because Liverpool’s economy was like no other city determined by the port and port-related fields, where the bigger part of all workers were employed.14

2.1.2. Globalization and Pro-European Attitude

As economic and political supremacy Great Britain has an impressive history. But after losing the Empire its political power was strongly diminished, whereas on the other hand the industrial decline denoted the loss of its economic ascendancy.15 Given that, for Great Britain globalization is more than only the creation of new markets. Besides economic im- the same region. But for the purpose of this paper it is sufficient to assign Liverpool to the northern regions and consider London as the representation of the South.


1 Cp. Kinsey, Joanna, The Economic Impact of the Port of Liverpool on the Economy of Merseyside. Using a Multiplier Approach, in: Geoforum, 1981, Vol. 12 No.4, pp. 331-347, here p. 331.

2 Cp. Zehner, Klaus, Von Liverpool zu „Livercool“. Strukturwandel und wirtschaftliche Erneuerung einer Weltstadt des 19. Jahrhunderts, in: Geographische Rundschau, 2010, Jg.62, Nr.2, p. 34-40, here pp. 36f.

3 Schmidt, Klaus-Dieter, Weltwirtschaftlicher Strukturwandel und Beschäftigung. Optionen in einer offenen Wirtschaft, in: Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, 1986, Jg. 19, H. 1, p. 172-179, here p. 173, (own translation).

4 Cp. Wood Gerald/Zehner, Klaus, Großbritannien. Geographien eines europäischen Nachbarn, Heidelberg, 2010, p. 121.

5 Cp. Krätke, Stefan, Stadt - Raum - Ökonomie. Eine Einführung in aktuelle Problemfelder der Stadtökonomie und Wirtschaftsgeographie, Basel, 1995, p. 16.

6 Cp. Wehling, Hans-Werner, Großbritannien, Darmstadt, 2007, pp. 190 f.

7 It should be stressed that there are some controversies about the exact dividing line of the North-South Divide and even whether it really exists or not. There is also some evidence for economic differences within

8 For further reading about the impact of politics see Parkinson, Michael, Leadership and Regeneration in Liverpool. Confusion, Confrontation or Coalition?, in Judd, Dennis/Parkinson, Michael, Leadership and Urban Regeneration, Cities in North America and Europe, Newbury Park, 1990, Volume 37.

9 Cp. Wood Gerald/Zehner, Klaus, Großbritannien, pp. 84 f.

10 Ebd.

11 Cp. Zehner, Klaus, Von Liverpool zu „Livercool“, p. 36.

12 Ebd.

13 Cp. Wehling, Hans-Werner, Großbritannien, p. 177.

14 Cp. Kinsey, Joanna, Economic Impact of the Port, p. 331.

15 Cp. Wehling, Hans-Werner, Großbritannien, p. XI.

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The North-South Divide in the United Kingdom - Impact of Regional Disparities on Structural Change in Liverpool
RWTH Aachen University
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Liverpool, Structural Change, Structural Movement;, Service;, North-South Divide, restructuring, Strukturwandel, Industrial Decline;, Tertiarization;
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B.Sc. Yasemin Sari (Author), 2011, The North-South Divide in the United Kingdom - Impact of Regional Disparities on Structural Change in Liverpool, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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