‘Beyond GDP’ in cities: Assessing alternative approaches to urban economic development

Richard Crisp, David Waite, Anne Green, Ceri Hughes, Ruth Lupton, Danny MacKinnon, Andy Pike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Crises spur reflection and re-evaluation of what matters and what is valued. The impacts of the 2008 global financial crisis, COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency are reigniting debates about the nature of economic development approaches and what they aim to achieve in urban settings. Addressing a substantive gap in contemporary debates by helping to navigate a burgeoning and diverse field, this paper provides a critical and comparative assessment of five leading agendas that have been positioned as alternative and progressive policy responses to urban economic change: inclusive growth; the wellbeing economy; community wealth building; doughnut economics; and the foundational economy. Taking an international perspective, the paper provides a comparative review of their stated visions, mechanisms for change, and the spatial scales through which they are led and implemented. Our argument is that these alternative approaches to urban economic development are shaping creative, innovative and progressive responses to longstanding urban problems within policy and practice communities but require on-going scrutiny and evaluation to realise their potential to meaningfully achieve transformative change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Studies
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2023


  • inclusive growth
  • beyond gdp
  • economic development
  • cities
  • inclusive economy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Work and Equalities Institute


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