Was Poland the next Spain? Parallel analysis of regional convergence patterns after accession to the European Union

Main Article Content

Piotr Wójcik


Research background: Poland and Spain share many common features resulting both from similarities of historical experience, and also cultural, political, socio-demographic factors. Both countries have a similar area, population and GDP structure. They also share historical experience related to political and economic transformation after a long period of non-democratic, centralized governments. Therefore, the experience of Spanish membership in the EU is often considered as a model for Poland.

Purpose of the article: The purpose of this research is to perform a comparative empirical analysis of income convergence processes in Poland and Spain on a regional level. We aim to verify if and how these processes are related to one an-other (show similar paths). Special attention is paid to the periods after accession of these countries to the EU. Convergence patterns in both countries are compared with several tools.

Methods: Spatial econometric model for absolute beta convergence, sigma convergence indicators and the analysis of distribution dynamics — transition matrices and kernel density estimation.

Findings & Value added: The impact on EU accession on income convergence in Spain was positive both at the national and regional level. Regional convergence processes sped-up and interregional disparities decreased. The poorest subregions had relatively high probability to increase their income and catch-up with initially more developed regions. In the first decade after accession to the EU Poland has also achieved a significant improvement of income indicators at the national level. However, empirical analyses of GDP per capita distribution and its dynamics at the regional level in Poland show that the above mentioned progress does not spread out proportionally on all regions. Neither beta nor sigma convergence is observed. Instead, relatively fastest growth of initially richest regions (mostly large cities) introduces convergence of clubs leading to polarization. EU accession has accelerated divergence processes in Poland.

Article Details

How to Cite
Wójcik, P. (2017). Was Poland the next Spain? Parallel analysis of regional convergence patterns after accession to the European Union. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 12(4), 593-611. https://doi.org/10.24136/eq.v12i4.31
Economic growth


Barro, R. J., & Sala-I-Martin, X. (2004). Economic growth. Cambridge. London: MIT Press.
Caselli, F., Tenreyro, S., Frankel, J. A., & Clarida, R. H. (2004). Is Poland the next Spain? NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics ER International Seminar on Macroeconomics. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/ 40215055 (27.03.2016).
Durlauf, S. N., & Quah, D. T. (1999). The new empirics of economic growth. In J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (Eds.). Handbook of macroeconomics. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.
de la Fuente, A. (2002). On the sources of convergence: a close look at the Spanish regions. European Economic Review, 46(3). doi: 10.1016/S0014-2921(01) 00161-1
Herbst, M., & Wójcik, P. (2012). Growth and divergence of the Polish subregions over 1995–2006: a search for determinants and spatial patterns. Ekonomista, 2.
Magrini, S. (1999). The evolution of income disparities among the regions of the European Union. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 29(2). doi: 10.1016/S0166-0462(98)00039-8.
Mas, M., Pérez, F., & Quesada, J. (2010). The sources of Spanish regional growth. regional policy, economic growth and convergence. In J. R. Cuadrado-Roura (Ed.). Regional policy, economic growth and convergence. Heidelberg: Spring-er.
Mella-Marquez, J. M., & Yrigoyen, C. (2004). Urban growth and territorial dy-namics in Spain (1985-2001). A spatial econometrics analysis. Conference pa-per. Retrieved from http://www.aecr.org/web/congresos/2004/pdf/109.1.pdf (27.03.2016).
Quah, D. (1996a). Regional convergence clusters across Europe. European Eco-nomic Review, 40(3−5). doi: 10.1016/0014-2921(95)00105-0.
Quah, D. (1996b). Twin peaks: growth and convergence in models of distribution dynamics. Economic Journal, 106(437). doi: 10.2307/2235377.
R Core Team (2016). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Retrieved from https://www.R-project.org/.
Sala-i-Martin, X. (1996). The classical approach to convergence analysis. Econom-ic Journal, 106(437).
Smętkowski, M., & Wójcik, P. (2012). Regional convergence in Central and East-ern European countries: a multidimensional approach. European Planning Studies, 20(6). doi: 10.1080/09654313.2012.673560.
Solow, R. M. (1956). A contribution to the theory of economic growth. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 70(1). doi: 10.2307/1884513.
Tortosa-Ausina, E., Pérez, F., Mas, M., & Goerlich, F. J. (2005). Growth and con-vergence profiles in the Spanish provinces (1965–1997). Journal of Regional Science, 45(1). doi: 10.1111/j.0022-4146.2005.00367.x.
Villaverde, J. (2005). Provincial convergence in Spain: a spatial econometric anal-ysis. Applied Economic Letters, 12(11). doi: 10.1080/13504850500190030.