The COAG Reform Council has released a study they commissioned from SGSEP in 2012 to scope empirical research on productivity and agglomeration benefits in Australian capital cities.
The Council's brief was aimed at:
• Providing "a resource that can be used by governments as an evidence base to inform strategic planning decisions on different urban forms and settlement patterns
• Assisting governments in resolving key information and data gaps on productivity and agglomeration benefits in cities."
A thesis underpinning the COAG ‘cities agenda' is that urban structure can make a significant difference to the overall value delivered by major infrastructure projects. This represents an important shift from previous philosophies where the Commonwealth took a somewhat narrow perspective in appraising investments. There is now a growing awareness of the productivity benefits that might accrue in cities which are structured to optimise agglomeration economies.
SGS produced a report that addressed this information gap in COAG's efforts to foster more productive cities. It drew together the basis, in theory, for asserting the critical importance of urban agglomeration. It then set out a (potentially) standard method by which agglomeration economies might be measured across Australian cities using the best information which is currently available. Recognising that both the body of theory and the available relevant data are still in what might be called a ‘formative stage', the report also proposed a research agenda to support more effective measurement of agglomeration effects for incorporation in Australian project and policy evaluation.
read the report Productivity and Agglomeration Benefits in Australian Capital Cities (on COAG's website)