Growth and Regional Development in an Enlarged European Union
Edited by Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell and Peter Mooslechner
Introduction: Welcome remarks from the 2001 conference
Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell Twelve years after the fall of the iron curtain we still see remarkable diﬀerences in real GDP per capita between the accession countries and the member states of the European Union. After the strong recession at the beginning of the 1990s most accession countries managed to generate real growth rates of GDP that lie well above the EU average. At the same time unemployment rates rose to relatively high levels – a consequence of the restructuring process from a planned to a market economy. Here the question might be asked whether the wealth gap is diminishing, and what are the driving forces behind what can be called a ‘convergence process’. This volume aims at shedding a light on the problem of economic convergence between regions and countries with diﬀerent, often vastly diﬀerent, income-per-capita levels. It will focus on the theoretical fundamentals, on historical evidence and on challenges for economic policy, oﬀering a forum for discussion on the current ‘best policies’ to foster convergence. CONVERGENCE THEORY The neoclassical model of economic growth is the standard starting point among the theoretical approaches to explaining economic convergence. The neoclassical model postulates that countries which are identical in terms of demographic development, saving habits and production technologies but diﬀer in terms of their initial factor endowments display a growth diﬀerential and reach the same level of output after convergence in factor inputs has been achieved. Hence the model predicts real convergence, meaning the ‘catching up’ of emerging...