Monitoring convergence in the European Union

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Publication Date 2018
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The European Union is committed to economic, social and territorial cohesion, inclusive growth and upward economic convergence. This means helping Member States and regions to achieve their full potential and to bring standards of living and prosperity closer together – through overall improvement.

Against this background, the inequalities and diverging patterns noted in Europe in recent years are a cause of concern. They challenge the long-held EU goal to increase European prosperity by reducing economic and social disparities between states and regions.

To achieve upward convergence, policymakers require evidence on trends both within and between Member States, whether or not these trends signal a general worsening of living and working conditions, and whether the distance between groups of Member States or regions is increasing and some groups are moving in different directions.

Eurofound's work
Eurofound monitors convergence in a range of dimensions: employment, social protection, working conditions, socioeconomic factors, social cohesion and quality of life. Convergence in employment is analysed based mainly on the historical development of employment participation. Convergence in social protection is an important but potentially very wide field. Eurofound focuses on a small number of broad indicators.

The exploration of convergence in working conditions relies on European Working Conditions Survey data for the period 1991–2015, and other statistical sources. Specific indicators related to job quality, like working time or wages, are being selected.

To investigate convergence in social cohesion and quality of life, Eurofound analyses convergence for selected indicators in areas such as subjective well-being, satisfaction with life domains, living conditions, quality of society, social inclusion and social cohesion. Empirical analysis will be performed for the period 1983-2016, drawing also on data from the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) and other statistical sources.

As the socioeconomic context is central for the understanding of other convergence patterns, a limited set of indicators establishing this context (per capita real income, the poverty rate, annual growth rate) will be monitored as well.

Finally, the possibility to combine indicators and create summary indices will be explored, drawing on the experience of other international organisations. The analyses, building on previous work, will consider clustering countries or regions to understand variation between them.

Ongoing work
+ Concept paper and list of convergence indicators
+ Interim results on socioeconomic environment and convergence in employment in Europe
+ Web-based convergence repository

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