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Development and Regional Disparities – Testing the Williamson Curve Hypothesis in the European Union


  • Béla Szörfi

    () (Kopint-Tárki Economic Research Institute)


In this paper I examine the relationship between within-country regional disparities and the development of nations in the enlarged European Union. Using panel data methods, I find evidence on the Williamson curve hypothesis, which says that disparities are lower in the early stages of development, peak in middle-income stages, but diminish again as a country becomes rich. More importantly, however, I point out that several factors have a greater influence on disparities than national income. Among these country-specific factors, the date of EU accession plays an outstanding role, being responsible for more than one-half of the differences in regional disparities between the Member States. Four other factors connected to EU membership are also possible reasons for the disparities: the economic transition process in the new Member States, Economic and Monetary Union, the funds made available by the EU Structural and Cohesion Funds as well as effective institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Béla Szörfi, 2007. "Development and Regional Disparities – Testing the Williamson Curve Hypothesis in the European Union," Focus on European Economic Integration, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 2, pages 100-121.
  • Handle: RePEc:onb:oenbfi:y:2007:i:2:b:4

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