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The geography of inequalities in Europe

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  • Philippe Martin

Abstract

This paper analyses some of the theoretical and empirical arguments that serve to legitimate regional policies in Europe. We start by reviewing the existing evidence that European integration has led to a process of convergence between countries but not between regions inside countries and suggest some mechanisms through which this can happen. Taking the example of France, we show that in the past twenty years regional divergence in production has indeed occurred. However, the geography of incomes has, during the same period, become more equal producing a “scissors effect” between the geographies of production and income. This suggests that transfers, which have nothing to do with regional policies, have, at least in France, more than compensated the increase in production inequality. Hence, “regional convergence” is not a synonym of “regional cohesion” at least at the national level. We then review evidence on a possible trade-off between growth and regional inequalities to suggest that efficiency motives can not easily be used to defend regional policies. Both evidence and theory suggest that regional concentration leads to efficiency gains. This also implies that the EU is faced with a choice it has tried to avoid until now. Either, it puts its effort in slowing or even reversing the process of spatial economic concentration at the national level or it concentrates on policies to speed up the convergence process between poor and rich countries. Finally, we analyse the relation between spatial and social inequalities. We report empirical evidence for Europe that suggests a strong empirical relation between the two: even after controlling for transfers and other possible determinants of individual inequalities, we find that countries with more regional inequalities are also those with more individual inequalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Martin, 2005. "The geography of inequalities in Europe," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/9283, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/9283
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Böckerman, Petri & Maliranta, Mika, 2006. "The Micro-level Dynamics of Regional Productivity Growth: The Source of Divergence in Finland Revised," Discussion Papers 1038, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    2. Naiquan Liu & Xinyue Ye & Huimin Yang & Ying Li & Mark Leipnik, 2014. "Manufacturing firm heterogeneity and regional economic growth difference in China," Regional Science Policy & Practice, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(2), pages 213-230, June.
    3. Peter Schmidt, 2014. "EU regional policy and its theoretical foundations revisited," ERSA conference papers ersa14p1560, European Regional Science Association.
    4. Triandafil, Cristina Maria, 2011. "The Analysis Of The Convergence Criteria. Empirical Perspective In The Context Of The Sustainable Character Highlight," Working Papers of National Institute of Economic Research 111205, National Institute of Economic Research.
    5. Michael Storper, 2010. "Agglomeration, Trade, And Spatial Development: Bringing Dynamics Back In," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 313-342.
    6. Ron Martin, 2008. "National growth versus spatial equality? A cautionary note on the new ‘trade-off’ thinking in regional policy discourse," Regional Science Policy & Practice, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 3-13, November.
    7. Nazarczuk Jarosław M., 2015. "Regional distance: the concept and empirical evidence from Poland," Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series, De Gruyter Open, vol. 28(28), pages 129-141, June.
    8. Marc Brunetto & Nadine Levratto, 2017. "Analysis of the job creation process in metropolitan areas: A spatial perspective," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-36, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    9. Longhi, C. & Musolesi, A. & Baumont, C., 2013. "Modeling the industrial dynamics of the European metropolitan areas during the process of economic integration: a semiparametric approach," Working Papers 2013-10, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
    10. Lars Calmfors & Giancarlo Corsetti & Michael P. Devereux & Gilles Saint-Paul & Hans-Werner Sinn & Jan-Egbert Sturm & Xavier Vives, 2008. "Chapter 4: Industrial policy," EEAG Report on the European Economy, CESifo Group Munich, vol. 0, pages 105-124, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic geography; regional inequalities; regional subsidies;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • R0 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General

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