“European Union: a diverging Union?”

“European Union: a diverging Union?” (Co-author: Aristea Gkagka).


08/2009 – 3rd Meeting of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ) – Buenos Ayres

05/2009 – Annual Meeting Austrian Economic Association, Linz Austria

09/2008 – European Trade Study Group 2008 – Warsaw

Abstract: Standard growth theory emphasizes the closure of gaps: as internationalization proceeds, socioeconomic, structural characteristics of different countries become similar. Despite the fact that the European Union (EU) represents a historical experiment of a region of gradually strengthening internationalization, a wide range of EU studies reject the convergence hypothesis, showing an unclear development of standard deviation in time. Many of the studies find that something went wrong in the 1980s, yet they describe it as the result of a temporary effect. In the present paper, we show that the puzzle of the 1980s is not a short-term break in a continuous trend, but a complete alteration of the process, a structural shift toward a persisting period of continuous divergence! The previous trend of closing the gap among the member countries was reversed completely: in 2010, the coefficient of variation returned to higher levels than those of 1960. Second, all previous gains of labor vanished: in the period 1980-2005, real wages lost about 35 percent against per capita gross domestic product (GDP). The empirical findings we provide support our main suspicion: apart from confirming the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) observation of growing and persisting inequality in all Western economies, the gradual transition of the European free trade area into an economic and monetary union, accompanied by the prevalence of a specific policy, explains the prevalence of a period of deepening divergence since the beginning of the 1980s.


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