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Volume XI, Number 1, 2015

Inter-Regional Disparities in the European Union
Pages 3-14

ABSTRACT – One of the European Union’s major goals is to reduce disparities between countries and regions. We compute sigma-convergence at national and regional level (NUTS2) on GDP per capita and employment rates to analyze the evolution of convergence in the EU. Results show growing disparities both at regional and national levels. Quartiles are used to separate the best and the worst performing regions. Comparing the average performance of the 25% most developed regions with the one of the 25% least developed regions reveals that the widening gaps are due to the increasing performance of the former and the worsening situation of the latter. In terms of both GDP and employment, after 2009 the leading regions enjoy high growth rates, while the regions lagging behind show small or negative growth. According to the results, the divergence in regional employment rates is currently at the highest level since 2000. Choropleth maps are used to illustrate the levels and the evolution of the two indicators at regional level.

Keywords: regional development, regional economic disparities, sigma-convergence

Catching Up or Falling Behind? Economic Convergence and Regional Development Trajectories in Romania
Pages 15-34

ABSTRACT – The main aim of the article is to analyse the economic convergence between the NUTS 3 level units (counties) in Romania during a period of intensive economic growth (1999-2011). The main added value of the paper consists in the measurement of the multi-dimensional convergence and in adding a spatial dimension to the convergence analysis by testing the spatial autocorrelation. We have found no economic convergence for the analysed period, the economic growth process being polarized by the capital region. But in contrast, we have evidenced a social convergence process, starting with 2008 for the education component of the HDI and starting even earlier, in 2004, for the life expectancy component. In addition, we have tested the convergence club hypothesis, which has evidenced the club convergence phenomena in Romania as well.

Keywords: multi-dimensional convergence, regional disparities, spatial autocorrelation, club convergence, Romania

Regional Disparities and Social Cohesion Policies. The Case of the Metropolitan Area of Bari (Italy)
Pages 35-48

ABSTRACT – The role of Regions appears reconfigured by the “reshaping” of national States. Besides, under a sub-regional scale, forms of governance have been launched, redefining a new territoriality. In Italy, the role of the Regions and Cities is more and more important in the decision-making processes of the territories and it is also characterized by the recent establishment of the metropolitan cities, but still not geo-politically defined. There is, in fact, a constitutional reform process through the region’s reorganization legislative autonomy and strengthening of local governments. In this context, some areas are characterized by social unrest that includes new forms of poverty, urban malaise and marginalization, due also to the financial and economic crisis whose signs of recovery are still very weak. In the European Union, the programming decisions considered the policy of development and cohesion also at the local scale. The 2014-2020 EU programming cycle, in fact, has defined the main role of metropolitan cities, but also of cities and internal areas. The contribution will analyze Puglia, region of southern Italy, and the metropolitan area of Bari, the regional capital, in order to verify policies concerning the social field, both through “strategic planning” and launching the so-called “smart city” experience. In the metropolitan city, indeed, there is already an orientation towards the “social innovation” to address the issues of social cohesion and inclusion, consistent to sustainable development.

Keywords: regions, social and territorial cohesion, social innovation, metropolitan area, Bari

Is There Any Regional Price Disparity in Peninsular Malaysia?
Pages 49-58

ABSTRACT – This study examines whether there are significant differences in prices across four regions in Peninsular Malaysia, namely Northern, Central, Southern, and Eastern Peninsular Malaysia. Disaggregate monthly consumer price indices for twelve types of goods and services from July 2010 to February 2013 were analyzed. Based on the Levin and Lin (1993) panel unit root test, this study found statistical evidence of price convergence among the four zones for two-thirds of the price groups. Most importantly, price convergence exists for three major consumers’ expenditures items: Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages; Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels; and Transport. Indeed, these eight price groups that converged comprised 83.6% of total consumer expenditures. Evidence of price convergence among these price groups suggests that Peninsular Malaysia markets are highly integrated. In addition, this study found that the half-life for the tradable goods is roughly 2-3 months and for nontradable goods about 5-10 months. These findings indicate that tradable goods prices adjust more rapidly than nontradable goods do.

Keywords: regional price disparity, price convergence, half-life, speed of adjustment, panel unit root test

Is There a County Border Effect in Spatial Income Differences in Hungary?
Pages 59-68

ABSTRACT – The economic and social importance of administrative borders can be examined from the point of view of internal homogeneity and external heterogeneity of the delimited spatial units and of the effect on the intensity of spatial interactions. This paper deals with the first question. Hungarian county borders can be treated as strict limits from the administrative point of view. However, choropleth maps with county borders can suggest that county borders are strict limits for the social and economic indicators too. It is a conceptually interesting question, whether presenting data at county level is justified by the significant differences of various indicators along the county borders or if it is determined only by the availability of data. The aim of this study is to examine empirically the existence or non-existence of the county border effect by the example of spatial distribution of personal incomes in Hungary. The analysis is possible due to the availability of personal income data at the level of more than 3,000 Hungarian settlements. The results show that county borders have effect only in those cases where the border is determined by a physical geographical barrier, namely the Danube River and Lake Balaton. The settlements are more similar to the close settlements of a neighbouring county than to the average of its own county.

Keywords: border effect, administrative border, spatial income differences, Hungary

Regional Absorption of Common Agricultural Policy’s Rural Development Funds Targeted for Semi-Subsistence Farms in Romania in the 2007-2013 Programming Period
Pages 69-76

ABSTRACT – Land fragmentation and the need for consolidation are major problems of current Romanian agriculture. The transition from the status-quo of an agricultural structure dominated by subsistence and semi-subsistence farms in the view of restructuring, resulting in a more efficient sector – is a must. Present study proposes to evaluate the application of specific measures of the Romanian National Rural Development Programme (NRDP) that sought to support semi-subsistence farms between 2007 and 2013. Three NRDP measures have been identified under which semi-subsistence farms were eligible: Measure 112 “Setting up of young farmers”, Measure 121 “Modernization of agricultural holdings”, and Measure 141 “Supporting semi-subsistence agricultural holdings”. The above measures belong to the 1st Axis of the Common Agricultural Policy’s second pillar, thus having a common general goal the improvement of the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, while aiming at restructuring and developing the physical potential and management of generation change – trying to keep the rural population in place. Available data on a seven-year time horizon was analyzed. The absorption level of measures 112, 121 and 141 – under which the Romanian semi-subsistence farms were eligible – on national and subnational scale was mapped.

Keywords: Romanian small farms, semi-subsistence agricultural holdings, National Rural Development Programme, measures 112, 121, 141, absorption

Relationships Between Agrotourism and Certified Quality Food in Italian Rural Areas
Pages 77-88

ABSTRACT – Since the early 1960, farms are one of the alternatively forms of hospitality in few Italian regions located predominately in the north and in the centre of peninsula. In 1985, Italian government promulgated a law in order to regulate this non-conventional form of tourism, by delegating to the regions the direct management of administrative procedures and inspections in farms. Nowadays, Italian agritourist farms represent a good chance to give value in favour of farm by the diversification of agrarian activities and also by holistically promoting local food in a direct connection to local gastronomy, rural heritage and tradition, with positive effects on the endogenous development in rural areas. The aim of the paper was to assess the role of agritourism in raising the socio-economic development of rural space by the diffusion of certified quality food using a quantitative approach and to assess if agritourist and certified quality food were tools able to implement the living conditions in the countryside. The findings have disclosed that tourists from abroad have increased the level of farmer income giving value towards high quality food and farm holidays farms. Instead, the impact of Italian agritourists has been relatively poor because of the economic crisis.

Keywords: rural territories, certified quality food, rural districts, self-organising maps, multiple regression models

Housing Inequalities Regarding the Informal Settlements in Romania
Pages 89-100

ABSTRACT – The emergence and evolution of informal settlements in Romania are the result of a complex of historical and socio-economic factors and of some territorial planning policies dating from the socialist and post-socialist period. The lack of appropriate legislative instruments regarding urban planning, estate restitution and the weak control of the civil engineering department in conjunction with the policy of imposed sedentary life for the Roma population dating from the 50’s and 60’s generated multiple forms of territorialisation of the informal settlements and pronounced dynamics of this phenomenon at national level. The study shows the housing inequalities regarding the informal settlements in proportion to the place of residence, the access to the technical and urban utilities, the defining elements of the social profile of the inhabitants and the legislative and institutional framework that generated the emergence and the current evolution of this territorial phenomenon.

Keywords: informal settlements, housing inequalities, Roma communities, illegal settlements, housing exclusion

Spatial Impact of the Road Infrastructure Development in Romania. An Accessibility Approach
Pages 101-112

ABSTRACT – This paper compares the spatial structure of accessibility in Romania before and after the implementation of some major national and/or European road infrastructure projects. This study suggests a new index for accessibility measurement by combining gravity-based models with Place Rank and adapting it to the Romanian system of settlements. Based on the GIS estimation of travel time, this index evaluates not only the geographical position of a specific community relative to the road network, but also the level of accessibility of rural and urban communities to the social services located in central places. The GIS-based maps indicate the existing disparities (between well-connected and isolated regions in terms of accessibility to the central places) and the impact of new infrastructure projects on these disparities. The resulting maps can be used as efficient tools for transport planning and development at different scales (international, national, regional and local).

Keywords: network analysis, accessibility, road infrastructure development, central place, Romania

Relevant Geological Features in Terms of Regional Geography Analysis and Their Graphical Representation. Case Study: the Land of Haţeg
Pages 113-120

ABSTRACT – Regional geography studies should approach the interrelations between the components of the territorial system and highlight those distinguishing features which will act as levers for future development. Speaking of the geological features, the graphical representation both of the evolution and of the current situation is considered important. Cartographic resources and the GIS software make possible many spatial analyses that can help in quantifying the implications of the geological evolution on the present state of a region. The cartographic representation in regional context of the deposits was considered necessary for the Land of Haţeg, as well as the reference to the national tectonic context. Together with these, the spatial representation of mineral resources, the evolution of the exploitation sites, as well as the potentially attractive areas were the subject of another chart, where graphics were inserted to quantitatively highlight the impact of the petrographic features on the morphometric parameters.

Keywords: geological evolution, petrographic features, morphometric parameters, regional geography, graphical representation, GIS software, Land of Haţeg

Youth in the Space: Socio-Spatial Theories and Practices
Pages 121-128

ABSTRACT – The paper is focused on the ways in which young people understand, create space and perceive their identities and themselves. It draws on space/identity theories, reconceptualises issues, highlights definitions and introduces into focus the meanings of space and identity. The first half of the study introduces the interpretation of space from a socio-cultural approach by focusing on the thoughts of Rob Shields, Henry Lefebvre, Marc Augé. The second half of the study – based on anthropological interviews – presents the socio-spatial processes of young people, the spatial realization of processes discovered by the relevant theories.

Keywords: spaces, places, identity, cultural geography, social spatialisation