The study area of regional economics covers a range of economic issues with a regional dimension. Examples of questions related to such issues are: 1. what is the contribution of the individual provinces to the Dutch economy? And 2. how do Dutch regions perform in attracting foreign companies, compared to regions located abroad? The answers to these types of questions enable a spatial differentiation of economic policies.
Since 2010, PBL regional economic research has been focused on increasing the understanding of how to strengthen the competitiveness of Dutch regions and agglomerations. The reason for this focus is the fact that international competition particularly exists between regions rather than between countries. The focus on regional strengths also fits in with the new EU cohesion policy (2014–2020: Smart Specialisation), which focuses on innovation and strengthening regional factors.