Professor Kathy Pain

Professor of Real Estate Development

Professor Kathy Pain

Professor Kathy Pain

Research Division Lead
Human Geography Pathway Lead, Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) Doctoral Training Partnership at the University of Reading
Real Estate & Planning
HBS 220, Whiteknights campus
+44 (0) 118 378 8175
External website link



Kathy’s research focuses on sustainable city and regional development, governance and planning under conditions of contemporary globalization. She is a Co-Director of the Globalization & World Cities (GaWC) Research Network leading GaWC’s Global City Planning research. She has served on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) 'Vision for Cities' Global Sustainability Task Group, is a member of the UK Smart Cities All Party Parliamentary Group, the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Industrial Productivity Commission, the Institut Louis Bachelier Business School Scientific Council, Paris, and is an Expert Advisor to Chengdu Municipal Government and the Guangzhou Academy of Social Science Urban Strategy Research Institute, China.

Drawing on her interdisciplinary/practitioner-academic background, Kathy’s research links rigorous quantitative and qualitative data directly to policy and practitioner end-users, shedding light on dynamic relationships between complex macro- and micro-development drivers associated with international business and commercial real estate. She is a member of the UK ESRC Peer Review College.

Kathy’s research into associations between urban density and risk-adjusted investment returns is being drawn on in a five years study funded by the UK Medical Research Council exploring how the development industry can support long term resilient human health and well-being. Her engagement as an expert has included the UK, Europe, North America, the Middle East and the Pacific Asia region; examples include: the UK Treasury Fourth Economic Test for entry to Economic Monetary Union on the financial services industry and City wholesale markets; South East England Statutory Regional Policy Guidance Review; Canada's Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative; China’s global mega-city region development; Abu Dhabi global city development strategy; United States mega-region development; regional development planning for the Sydney global city-region; and strategy for the East Asian Pan-Yellow Sea Region.


  • PhD (Reading)
  • Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Diploma in Town Planning
  • RTPI Corporate Member
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers


Kathy’s research covers three main theoretical-empirical strands:

  • Processes of urbanization, agglomeration and city integration in the networked world economy;
  • intersections between the practices and global location strategies of advanced international financial and business services, and commercial real estate investment;
  • mega-city region economic change and spatial development, policy and sustainablity.

Selected Research Grants

Medical Research Council UKPRP, ‘Tackling the Root Causes of Unhealthy Planning, Economics and Decision-making: An Urban Systems Approach, (TRUED Urban Systems)’, 2019-2014.

China Municipal Government / National Business Daily, ‘Global Chengdu: An Analysis of Chengdu’s Position in the Global Economy’, 2018.

Urban Land Institute / New Climate Economy, ‘Supporting Smart Urban Growth: Successful Investing in Density’, 2016-17.

European Spatial Observation Network (ESPON), Continental Territorial Structures and Flows (Globalization): ‘TIGER: Territorial Impact of Globalization for Europe and its Regions’, 2010–2012.

Reading Community Interest Company / Reading Diamond Forum, ‘The Reading Diamond Local Economic Assessment’, 2010.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), ‘Benchmarking the World City Network: City Connectivities on the Eve of the Financial Crisis’, 2009–2010.

National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, ‘Project to map and measure the absorptive capacity of UK cities and regions’, 2008.

European Commission INTERREG IIIB North-West Europe, ‘POLYNET: Sustainable Management of European Polycentric Mega-City Regions’, 2003-2006.

Current PhD students

Ijeoma Emeghe: Housing Quality and Mental Well-being Valuation. First supervisor

Martyna Surma: Growing Entrepreneurship through Sustainable Urban Planning. First supervisor


View a full list of Professor Kathy Pain's Publications

Selected Publications

Pain, K. and Shi, S., Cities, Networks, Polycentrism – Examining the place of polycentrism in spaces of flows, Handbook on Cities and Networks, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, forthcoming 2020.

Shi, S., Wall, R., Pain, K. Exploring the significance of domestic investment for foreign direct investment in China: A city-network approach, Urban Studies, 2018, 1-18.

Pain, K., Megaregions Imaginaries: Excursions through a maze, Geographical Review, 106(2), 2016, 536-550.

Pain, K., Van Hamme, G., Vinciguerra, S., Global networks, cities and economic performance: Observations from an analysis of cities in Europe and the US, Urban Studies, 53(6), 2015, 1137-1161.

Taylor, P, Hoyler, M, Pain, K, Vinciguerra, S., Extensive and intensive globalizations: Explicating the low connectivity puzzle of us cities using a city-dyad analysis, Journal of Urban Affairs, 36(5), 2014, 876-890.

Lizieri, C, Pain, K., International Office Investment in Global Cities: The Production of Financial Space and Systemic Risk, Regional Studies, 48 (3), 2014, 439-455.