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Population Potentials and Development Levels: Empirical Findings in the European Union


  • Andres Faiña


  • Jesus Lopez-Rodríguez



In this paper we deal with the issue of the spatial structure of Europe. In order to carry out our study, we use the technique of gravity models to compute population potentials, and then plot potential maps, which allow us to represent the main lines of force in terms of the geographical distribution of the population and consequently the main economic activity in the area as well. We also use the data which corresponds to the future acceding countries in order to better analyse the effects of European Union enlargement from a spatial perspective. The findings about the spatial structure of Europe were carried out to a further stage, testing econometrically the explanatory power that population potentials have on the levels of development. Using a logarithm specification for the relationship between population potentials and levels of development and estimating cross-section regressions for different time periods we evaluated if the explanatory power of the population potentials was hold constant over time or if on the contrary it was decreasing as long as we move forward testing our model for the latest data available (1999). Our proposed relationship was estimated in different years, 1982, 1989, 1994, 1997 and 1999. What we have found is that closeness to large consumer markets or in other words, market potential, was an important explanatory variable for regional income in the early eighties and that it has decreased its significance in determining regions income on the 1990´s. Thus dynamic income regions have also emerged in the periphery, and need not necessarily be close to rich regions. The main reasons for this tendency reside in a trend towards the delocalisation of economic activities driven by technical advances in transport, information and communication, together with tendencies towards convergence in a unified economic space and the impulse generated by the new EU regional policy which began in 1987 after the European Single Act. JEL classification: A12; J11; N30; R23 Keywords: Spatial structure; Population Potential contours; Spatial planning; Potential maps; Population settlements

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  • Andres Faiña & Jesus Lopez-Rodríguez, 2003. "Population Potentials and Development Levels: Empirical Findings in the European Union," ERSA conference papers ersa03p30, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa03p30

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    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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