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Network analysis of economic development and social cohesion in Europe

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Networking and development

An EU team considered economic development from social and networking points of view. Results show an inverse relationship between income disparity and product complexity.

Digital Economy icon Digital Economy
Society icon Society

The EU-funded CONNECTING-EU! (Network analysis of economic development and social cohesion in Europe) project examined the network structure of economic development and social cohesion. Using new methods, the team analysed millions of publications and patents, plus international trade data, from between 1962 and 2010. The group also examined the structural drivers of innovation networks and knowledge migration. Results indicate that countries exporting complex products have less income inequality than countries exporting simpler products. Also, increases in economic complexity were followed by decreases in income inequality. Researchers additionally showed that changes in a country's productive structure translated to changes in income inequality. Thus, social policies alone are insufficient to change countries' productive structures, and industrial change is needed as well. The team developed a software tool allowing researchers from any field to measure diversity and similarity in complex systems. CONNECTING-EU!'s book confronts traditional views of migration with new theories of brain circulation and innovation networks. Results indicate that migration leads to mutual benefits for home and host countries. Such migration can stimulate entrepreneurship, competence acquisition and economic development, resulting in a win-win situation for all. However, cultural diversity needs active management. Researchers also used the career paths of scholars to predict evolving research output of individuals, institutions and nations. They created maps showing linkages among fields, which predict the fields individuals and organisations would enter in the future. The maps help European policymakers analyse comparative advantages of diversification paths for researchers and institutions. The project's insights into the field will enable policymakers to better plan and manage economic development.


Network, economic development, product complexity, CONNECTING-EU!, social cohesion

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