This report examines the impacts of economic specialisation and diversification on Australia’s mid-sized towns. For the purposes of this project, mid-sized towns include all settlements with a population of 5,000 to 50,000 persons.
Mid-sized towns raise several questions of both local, and wider, policy significance - including questions around the wellbeing of their populations, the quality of life they offer residents, the satisfaction of their citizens and their resilience when confronted by economic and other shocks.
- specialisation has a positive effect on population and labour force size, but a negative effect on wages;
- specialisation can benefit local economies that are dependent on manufacturing, transportation and/or education;
- unrelated variety can help insulate local economies that are dependent on sectors especially prone to volatility, such as mining and manufacturing; and
- related variety can benefit local economies that are dependent on service-based industries, such as tourism and/or education, that derive their demand from other sectors of the economy.