Professor John McCombie
College Position
Emeritus Fellow in Land Economy
University Position
Professor of Regional and Applied Economics (Department of Land Economy)
Other Positions

Director of the Cambridge Centre for Economic and Public Policy

Degrees and Honours

MA (McMaster), MA, PhD

Research Interests

My research is largely concerned with understanding why countries and regions differ in terms of their economic and productivity growth rates. My early research was on the theoretical elaboration and statistical testing of the "Verdoorn law". This empirical relationship between industrial productivity and manufacturing growth was first given prominence by the late Lord Kaldor. This relationship provided evidence of the importance of increasing returns to scale in economic growth. Subsequent research concentrated on the role of the balance of payments in constraining the rate of economic growth. I am presently engaged in work that is essentially a critique of the neoclassical approach to measuring the rate of technical change. It involves an examination of the foundations of the aggregate production function, including issues raised in the Capital Theory Capital Controversies, aggregation problems and, in particular, the insurmountable problems posed by the use of value data and the presence of an accounting identity for the estimations of putative aggregate production functions. My research is currently changing with the recent establishment of the Centre for Economic and Public Policy, of which I am the Director.

Select Publications

“On Accounting Identities, Simulation Experiments and Aggregate Production Functions: A Cautionary Tale for (Neoclassical) Growth Theorists”, (with J. Felipe) in M. Setterfield, (ed.), Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Growth, (2009),Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

“Why the Data Tell Us Nothing about Returns to Scale and Externalities to Capital in Economic Growth” (with J. Felipe), (2009), Economia e Sociedade.

“Productivity Growth and Unemployment under Mrs. Thatcher Reconsidered”, (with N.F.B. Allington), (2009), Intervention: European Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, vol. 5.

“Are Estimates of Labour Demand Functions Mere Statistical Artefacts?”,(with J. Felipe) International Review of Applied Economics, (2009), vol. 23, pp. 147-168.

“What Can the Labour Demand Function Tell us about Wages and Employment? The Case of the Philippines” (with J. Felipe) in J Berg and D. Kucera (eds), In Defence of Labour Market Institutions. Cultivating Justice in the Developing World, (2008), International Labour Office and Palgrave-Macmillan.

“Effective Demand Constrained Growth in a Two-sector Kaldorian Model”, (with M. Roberts), Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, (2008), vol. 31, pp. 57-78.

“The ‘Thatcher Experiment’ 1979-1990: Did it Lead to an Economic Renaissance of the UK?” (with N. Allington) in P. Arestis and J.S.L. McCombie (eds) Missing Links in the Unemployment Relationship, (2008), Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.

"New Estimates of Returns to Scale and Spatial Spillovers for EU Regional Manufacturing, 1986-2002”, (with A. Angeriz and M. Roberts, M.), (2008),  International Regional Science Review, vol. 31, pp. 62-87.

“Correcting for Biases when Estimating Production Functions: An Illusion of the Laws of Algebra?”, (with J. Felipe and R. Hasan), (2008), Cambridge Journal of Economics, vol. 32, pp. 441-459.

"Returns to Scale and Regional Growth: The Static-Dynamic Verdoorn Law Paradox Revisited", Journal of Regional Science, (with M. Roberts), (2008), vol. 47 pp. 179-208.