IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Polycentric metropolitan areas in Europe towards a unified proposal of delimitation


  • Rafael Boix Domenech


  • Paolo Veneri


  • Vincent Almenar
  • Francesc Hernández


Metropolitan areas concentrate the main share of population, production and consumption in OECD countries. They are likely to be one of the most important units for economic, social and environmental analysis as well as for the development of policy strategies. However, one of the main problems that occur when adopting metropolitan areas as units of analysis and policy in European countries is the absence of widely accepted standards for identifying them. This severe problem hinders comparative research between European countries using metropolitan areas as units of analysis. In this text we defend the necessity of a methodology to identify metropolitan areas in Europe. This methodology should fulfil three requisites: first, to be useful for analysis and planning, which requires to represent in a realistic way economic, social and environmental phenomena; second, to be applicable to all the European countries; and third, to be flexible enough to deal with the existence of different administrative and territorial structures across countries as well as to take into account that many metropolitan areas, particularly the largest ones, are polycentric. The aim of this paper is to identify metropolitan areas in Spain and Italy using similar methodologies and to evaluate their application to other European countries. The results allow comparing the metropolitan realities of these countries as well as providing the metropolitan units that can be used in subsequent comparative researches. Two methodologies are proposed: the Cheshire-GEMACA methodology (FUR) and an iterative version of the USA-MSA algorithm, particularly adapted to deal with polycentric metropolitan areas. Both methods show a good approximation to the metropolitan reality and produce very similar results: 75 FUR and 67 DMA in Spain (75% of total population and employment), and 81 FUR and 86 DMA in Italy (70% of total population and employment).

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael Boix Domenech & Paolo Veneri & Vincent Almenar & Francesc Hernández, 2011. "Polycentric metropolitan areas in Europe towards a unified proposal of delimitation," ERSA conference papers ersa11p515, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa11p515

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Freeman, Alan, 2005. "Towards a common standard: comparing European and American cities," MPRA Paper 18104, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Rafael Boix & Vittorio Galleto, 2005. "Sistemas Locales de Trabajo y Distritos Industriales Marshallianos en España," Working Papers wpdea0514, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Antonio TACHE & Monica TACHE, 2015. "Evaluation Of Functional Urban Areas In The North-East Region," Romanian Statistical Review Supplement, Romanian Statistical Review, vol. 63(11), pages 33-50, November.
    2. Miguel Gómez-Antonio & Miriam Hortas-Rico & Linna Li, 2016. "The Causes of Urban Sprawl in Spanish Urban Areas: A Spatial Approach," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 219-247, June.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa11p515. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.