Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

FP5

IPROSEC Berichtzusammenfassung

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00031
Gefördert unter: FP5-HUMAN POTENTIAL
Land: United Kingdom

Spatio-temporal dimensions of economic and social change in Europe

The aim of the second issue of papers in the series was to highlight spatio-temporal differences both within and between nations, and to examine the challenges they pose for cross-national research teams, and for policy formulation and implementation. In the first paper, Louise Appleton considered general theoretical and methodological questions associated with spatio-temporal diversity for researchers engaged in cross-national comparative research. She concluded that space and time are crucial factors in understanding sociodemographic change and in policy formulation since decisions taken at EU level have to be operationalized in very different socio-cultural settings, which in turn affects their efficacy. Similarly, within-country variations and changes over time, not least in political representation, determine policy diffusion and assimilation.

The other contributions in this issue of papers were organized according to their geographical level of enquiry, starting with discussion of continental scale, moving through the national and regional levels to subnational diversity and the local level. In the second paper, Alec Hargreaves concentrated on continental scale ethnic diversity and its implications for understanding socio-demographic trends, and for formulating and implementing policies. He argued that obtaining formal citizenship is only a first stage in the process of effective social participation, which remains a major challenge for public policy.

The third paper by Tess Kay was concerned with continental scale differences with regard to gender differentiation in employment patterns related to levels of education. In drawing out the policy implications, she demonstrated that greater disparities are often found between different groups of women according to their level of educational attainment than between men and women. She therefore stressed the need for policies combating social exclusion to concentrate on poorly educated mothers and recommended the adoption of a lifetime perspective in policy formulation and an integrated approach in social policy responses.

In their paper, Dagmar Kutsar and Ene-Margit Tiit examined the problems inherent in comparative analysis of socio-demographic indicators between developed and transition countries, using the example of Estonia to illustrate the difficulty of achieving comparability over time within transition countries. They concluded that greater uniformity and comparability of indicators would make it easier to identify uniqueness.

In the first of two papers concerned with regional diversity, Dieter Eibel and Jeremy Leaman compared the two Germanys (East and West), and the impact of economic, political and social upheaval associated with unification based on the federal system. They took the case of public childcare provision to illustrate the disparities between the two systems and warned against drawing generalized conclusions about social attitudes and state policy formulation. In his paper, Devi Sacchetto considered the north/south divide in Italy in terms of economic, social, cultural and political factors, the effect it has on national demographic trends, and the implications for collecting and analysing national statistical data, and for formulating and implementing policy. He also concluded that universal solutions are not appropriate for what appear, on the surface, to be identical problems. Nor, he argued, has fiscal devolution provided a satisfactory answer, precisely because the regions most in need of policy intervention receive more limited funds and lack the administrative structures necessary to ensure effective policy delivery.

In her paper, Agnes Kende focused on within-nation ethnic diversity. She contrasted the Gypsy and non- Gypsy populations in Hungary, highlighting the problems of defining and measuring the Roma presence in the 1990s. She underlined the fact that poverty in Hungary is ‘ethnicized’, which means that the problems faced by Gypsies are not part of mainstream social policy, which raises important questions about social rights and equity for minorities.

The theme of rural versus urban differences was addressed by Wielislawa Warzywoda-Kruszy ska and Jerzy Krzyszkowski with reference to Poland. The authors discussed the problems of declining fertility rates and increasing population ageing from both spatial and temporal perspectives, highlighting the deterioration of the situation in rural areas. They concluded that the mainly restrictive policy measures put in place to stem population decline and offset the negative impact of population ageing have not prevented rural poverty from intensifying. In the absence of supportive public policy measures, older people are being forced to rely more heavily on their family members in a context where family solidarity is being severely tested.

The final paper by Maurice FitzGerald examined the implications for social life of the phenomenal economic growth that has taken place in Ireland since it joined the EU. The author argued that the benefits of economic growth have not been evenly distributed between rural and urban areas, social categories and women and men. He suggested that the changes, and particularly the speed with which they have occurred, have created important challenges for both policy formulation and implementation.

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