Talent competition in ‘smart’ global cities : what role for productive and protective welfare policy?

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


With the economic and technological changes that took place since the early 1980s, youth transitions into work, housing and family formation are increasingly recognized as having become extended, precarious and non-linear. A common argument that has been advanced within the social policy literature is that more productive, activating, service-oriented welfare policies tend to cater more effectively for ‘new risks’ groups such as young people, women and those possessing low skills, while a shift in the international development discourse suggests that the harmful impact of inequality for long-term economic growth highlights the need for well-designed protective, compensatory welfare policies and counter-cyclical social spending. Typically presented as a counter-perspective to prevalent market-centered and human-capitalfocused approaches to social development, the notion of transformative protective welfare policy entails a specific consideration of the positive effect such policies might have for the promotion of productive assets particularly of the poor. In the meantime, prominent theorists within urban studies have argued that while being a magnet for resources and talent, global cities also tend to be more diverse in their demographic make-up and sites of heightened economic and social inequality. As a consequence, global cities demand qualitatively different support for young people to forge pathways into adulthood and the sharing of ‘smart’ policy practice promises to be particularly fruitful at the cross-city, rather than the cross-country level. In short, there is substantial evidence on the meanings, processes and contexts of youth transitions, the productive and protective dimensions of welfare and global cities, respectively, but attempts to meaningfully link these literatures are almost wholly absent. This paper thus aims to start filling this gap by drawing out more explicitly the boundaries of productive and protective welfare policy support for young people in global cities across Europe and the AsiaPacific and to consider whether such a distinction into separate dimensions of welfare policy remains conceptually helpful for policy makers seeking to respond to rapidly evolving local labor markets and increasing international competition by promoting ‘smart’ innovation and entrepreneurship alongside inclusive growth and well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2017
EventSmart Cities, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Asia: Challenges and Opportunities - Lingnan University (LU); King’s College London; Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 20 Apr 201720 Apr 2017


ConferenceSmart Cities, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Asia: Challenges and Opportunities
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
Internet address


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