This most recent volume contains six interesting and diverse papers.
The first paper, by Holtham and Huggins, explores the factors which are associated with regional economic development and prosperity, using data on over 450 regional economies from around the world. One result in particular is highlighted – that education expenditures are strongly associated with regional success. For regions with relatively low gross value-added and productivity, the most important factor was found to be expenditure on primary and secondary education, while for higher prosperity regions, spending on higher education was found to be more important.
The paper by Henley and Lang explores the rise in self-employment in Wales, and considers whether this is related to growth in the so called ‘gig-economy’. The authors recognise that the emergence of internet platform-based businesses, such as Uber and Deliveroo, have resulted in pressure on some to work on an insecure self-employed basis. However they conclude that the gig-economy is only one part of a more complex story, and that self-employed business owners continue to form the majority of the self-employed, both across the UK and in Wales.
The experiences of people who participated in training programmes supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) in Wales are investigated in the paper by Davies et al. The training programmes are considered to have possibly succeeded less well in supporting some of the most vulnerable groups within the labour market, such as relatively young participants, with low levels of educational attainment. However, generally the ESF programmes are considered to have helped address some of the essential skills issues within the Welsh economy.
The paper by Henderson reports on the initial findings from an ongoing research project to examine the economic impacts associated with business adoption and use of superfast broadband and enabled digital technologies. The findings to date indicate that firms using superfast broadband and digital technologies reported greater labour productivity and innovation rates.
The scale and characteristics of tourism foreign direct investment (FDI) in Wales are examined in the paper by Xu. Tourism was estimated to account for around 3.4% of total direct Welsh GVA in 2013, with 86,500 full-time equivalent jobs estimated to be in tourism industries. UK and overseas-owned tourism businesses were found to supply just over half of all tourism services and products in Wales, with these tourism businesses also having levels of productivity compared with domestically-owned businesses.
The final article in this volume is by Daglish et al. This paper examines election issues, political party performance and geography. The authors discuss three factors that were important in influencing voting behaviour, and in shaping the result of the 2015 general election: perceived relative importance of election issues, expected performance of parties on each election issue, and the trade-off between election issues. The authors suggest that the Liberal Democrats lost significant vote share because of voters’ perceptions of their performance on the contemporary election issues.
This volume is freely available online at https://wer.cardiffuniversitypress.org/14/volume/25/issue/0/