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2012 events

The Rise of China and the Relative Economic Decline of the West

Professor Chris Hamnett, King's College London

Research seminar

4:00-5:30pm Wednesday 30 May, Room K2.31, Strand Campus


The last 30 years have seen a dramatic reshaping of the geography of the world economy. China, and the Asia-Pacific region more generally, have witnessed rapid economic growth, to the point where they are arguably poised to overtake the West within the next few years. The paper discusses these changes and addresses the question of whether, and to what extent, the west is in relative economic decline compared to the emergent economies. The paper focuses on a number of economic changes over the last 30 years, including analysis of changes in GDP (using various measures), manufacturing output, exports, foreign trade balances and GDP per capita. It concludes that, on most measures, the West is clearly in long term relative economic decline and that the rate of change has increased since the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent deep recession in most western countries. The centre of gravity of the world economy is undeniably shifting from West to East with long term implications in terms of economic power and influence.

About the speaker

Chris Hamnett has been at King’s since 1995. Before coming to King’s he had a long career at the Open University interspersed with numerous visiting positions including UBC, George Washington University, ANU, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, Nuffield College Oxford, where he held the Sir Norman Chester Senior Research Fellowship, and recently at Sciences Po, Paris.

He is regarded as a leading British expert on housing wealth and inheritance and a leading researcher in the fields of social polarization, gentrification and housing. He has authored or co-authored a number of books including Cities, Housing and Profits (1989), Shrinking the State: the political underpinnings of privatization (1998) Winners and Losers: home ownership in modern Britain (1999), Unequal City: London in the global arena (2003) and with Tim Butler Ethnicity, Class and Aspiration: remaking London's New East End (2011).

He was a member of the Dutch equivalent of the RAE geography team in 2000-1, and in 2006 he was on the international assessment panel for the departments of geography and urban studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has held a variety of external examiner posts at the universities of Reading, Sheffield, Nottingham, Oxford, Birkbeck and Oxford amongst others. He is on the editorial boards of several academic journals

In the mid 1980s his research on the flat break-up and conversion market in London led to his being appointed as member and research director of the Nugee Committee of Inquiry into the problems of purpose built flats. The findings and recommendations of this committee which received all party support in Parliament led directly to the 1987 Landlord and Tenants Act. His current research is on the links between social class, ethnic change, the housing market and education in East London, the impact of welfare benefit cuts in London and he is currently working on a book on the rise of China and its impact on the west.

His knowledge of the housing market in London was recognised by his becoming a Westminster housing commissioner in 2005-6 and an Ealing Housing Commissioner in 2011. He was elected an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciencesin 2007 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2010. He was awarded the Back Meal of the Royal Geographical Society in 2010. He is a contributor on economic and social issues to the Independent, The Financial Times, the Guardian and other newspapers.
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