Spatial heterogeneity and interregional spillovers in the European Union: Do cohesion policies encourage convergence across regions?
Using a spatial econometric perspective, the speed of convergence for a sample of 163 regions of the European Union (EU) over the period 1981-1996 is estimated. For this purpose, we use a specification strategy which allows an explicit modeling of both spatial heterogeneity and spatial autocorrelation found in the analyzed sample. The estimated final model combines groupwise heterocedasticity, the identification of two spatial regimes and spatial dependence. Our results show how an appropriate consideration of the role of spatial effects can shed new insights into the European convergence process. We find that regions in the EU cohesion-fund countries (Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain) are converging separately from the rest of regions of the EU. Our estimations indicate that over the analyzed period, there was a faster conditional convergence in relative income levels of the regions belonging to Cohesion countries (5.3%) than in the rest of the regions of the EU (3.3%). Therefore, our results contrast with other evidence that points to the fact that the convergence process in Europe has weakened or even has stopped at the beginning of the 1980s. Moreover, our work shows clear evidence of separate spatial convergence clubs among EU regions.
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