Copenhagen, Lyon and Manchester – comparable in terms of economic performance, but different as regards their welfare regimes (Esping Andersen et al., 2002). It is worth starting by an analysis of their relative importance in the global economy: the urban economies included in the present research appear to be differently located in the worldwide economic geography. The six cities are all European mid-sized cities, very different from global cities (Bagnasco and Le Galés, 2000) such as London, New York and Tokyo (Sassen, 2000) both in terms of size and of hegemony in global dynamics. Nevertheless, they all represent one of the main economic poles in their national countries, if not their main pole with the exception of the United Kingdom and France, whose capital cities are the most important global cities of Europe (Bagnasco and Le Galés, 2000). According to the GaWC ranking (GaWC, 2008), Milan especially plays a role of crucial importance in the European economy, being the place of the Italian Stock Exchange. Barcelona and Munich, the productive capital of Spain and the capital of Bavaria Lander, are lower in position when compared to the Italian city, but still very important globally; Manchester and Lyon, although important to their national economies, seem to “suffer” the central role of the capital cities in their respective countries. A different situation concerns Copenhagen, which is the administrative capital of Denmark: in this case, the role played by such a small country in the global network is limited, so that the Danish city suffers a more peripheral role compared to the entire country in globalisation dynamics. As a second element of similarity, the six cities have been affected by the same economic trends during the 2000s, with a differentiation that emerged only after the financial crisis, determined more by the relatively different economical performances of their nation states and by the different composition of their local productive systems (Crouch et al., 2001). During the first years of the last decade, in fact, all the cities experienced a GDP growth between 2000 and 2007 (Figure 2.1). This similarity in the economic trend has been progressively disrupted by the financial crisis, with cities like Barcelona and Manchester suffering from the financial crisis more than others, although Manchester has been recovering in the most recent years. Copenhagen and Munich, rather, have continued their positive
trend in terms of GDP growth even during the financial crisis years, while Milan and Barcelona are still stuck in the crisis. According to this indicator, cities such as Copenhagen and Munich, while taking a weaker position in the globalisation process, have experienced strong economic growth, while other cities more relevant in the global economic geography, such as Milan, have registered a lower increase in economic wealth. This crisis has also greatly affected the unemployment situation (Figure 2.2). Before the crisis, economic trends led to a general convergence in the increase of employment although the cities were starting from extremely different situations. During the crisis, however, the situation changed significantly; Munich maintained steady growth in employment even after 2007, Lyon basically kept the same employment rate, and cities like Barcelona, Milan, Copenhagen and Manchester have been much more affected by unemployment (although Manchester and Barcelona seem to be recovering as of the most recent figures). To sum up, the crisis has affected most of the cities included in our investigation and has especially contributed towards increasing inequalities between cities from Northern and Southern Europe, also affecting competitive contexts such as Barcelona and Milan which, before the recession, had employment rates quite similar to the other urban contexts. In terms of effects on the structure of inequalities inside the cities, however, the crisis has had a more similar effect. With the exception of the United
Kingdom and France, in which the capitals, London and Paris, play a very important role in defining these trends, there has been a huge increase in the process of social polarisation in cities during the crisis. On the one hand, especially in the contexts more affected by the recession, there has been a strong concentration of wealthy inhabitants (Table 2.2); on the other, there has been an increase of households at risk of poverty (Table 2.3). The trend in growing inequalities, established in Europe before the financial crisis, has been magnified by the concurrent negative economic trend (Piketty, 2014). There are several factors affecting this trend, but in this chapter we
identify the changing economic specialisation of cities and the effects on the labour market as one important factor to take into consideration in order to understand how the structure of socio-inequalities has been changing in European cities.