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Regional convergence in the European Union: From hypothesis to the actual trends


  • Juan R. Cuadrado-Roura

    () (University of Alcala, Department of Applied Economy, Pl. Victoria, 2. 28802 Alcala Henares, Madrid, Spain)


Economic convergence or non-convergence between countries and regions continues to attract analytical attention in Europe. To converge in real terms and not only in terms of nominal variables is one of the basic aims of the European Union Treaty. A first objective of this paper is to offer an overview on what is actually happening in the European Union in contrast to some generally accepted hypotheses and models predicting regional convergence. Empirical evidence shows that after a period of (relative) regional convergence in GDP per capita as well in terms of labour productivity, this process has almost completely ended. Possible explanations go from the most pro-convergence theories (optimists) to those that outweigh real obstacles to theoretical assumptions (pessimists). As a second objective the paper examines two important facts that can contribute to explaining the actual trends. The first is named the `national effect', where regions of each country have economic behaviour strongly linked to the national economy as a whole. The second is the `differential' behaviour of many European regions in terms of economic outcomes. Some suggestions and conclusions are drawn from the facts and the trends observed in the European integration process.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan R. Cuadrado-Roura, 2001. "Regional convergence in the European Union: From hypothesis to the actual trends," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 35(3), pages 333-356.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:anresc:v:35:y:2001:i:3:p:333-356
    Note: Received: May 2000/Accepted: December 2000

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    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy


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