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Economic Convergence and Divergence in Europe

Economic Convergence and Divergence in Europe

Growth and Regional Development in an Enlarged European Union

Edited by Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell and Peter Mooslechner

This highly topical book addresses the challenge of economic convergence within Europe, beginning with a thorough review of the theory of growth and related empirical research. Historical and more recent economic developments within the present EU and current accession countries are discussed, along with the design for the process of further integration of accession countries into the EU and the Euro area. Moreover, the potential to achieve a sustainable catch-up process in Western Balkan countries, the Ukraine and Russia is explored, focusing on the task facing the EU in designing proper policies vis-à-vis these countries. The contributors’ varied perspectives ensure that the theories and policies postulated are linked closely with the actual situation in accession countries and offer up-to-date insights.

Chapter 1: Past convergence within Europe: coreÂ…periphery diversity in modern economic development

Ivan T. Berend

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, urban and regional studies, regional economics


1. Past convergence within Europe: core–periphery diversity in modern economic development Ivan T. Berend The existence of diversity among European countries goes back to the early history of the continent. It was characteristic of the medieval centuries, when great differences were already apparent between the Christian-feudal West and the barbarian peripheries and frontier regions. A proper core–periphery relationship, however, emerged only with the rise of modern world trade and a modern world system after the discovery of the Americas. North-western Europe became the core of a rapidly expanding Atlantic trade system, based on the production of mass consumption goods, accumulation of capital, and proto-industrialization, which went hand in hand with the gradual dissolution of feudal ties, the development of a pluralistic society and the rise of the absolute state. This area consequently became the birthplace of merchant capitalism, and subsequently the industrial revolution. The peripheries, that is the Mediterranean, Nordic and Central Eastern European countries, continued to preserve their traditional structures and institutions and became suppliers of nonprocessed agricultural products and raw materials for the core countries. They became part of the rising capitalist world system but with an inferior status, mostly subordinated to the West, and in some cases a re-feudalized social system (Wallerstein 1974; Pach 1994). Most of them were targets of foreign invasion and occupation, lost their independence and became part of huge multi-ethnic empires. Thus socioeconomic and political conditions in the European core on the one hand and the peripheries on the other...

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