Chapter 11 Territorial cohesion, polycentrism and regional disparities: revisiting an unsolved debate
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Cohesion policy in general, and territorial cohesion policy in particular, are aimed at reducing regional imbalances. Polycentric urban development is widely considered a mechanism through which regional disparities would decrease, but the empirical substantiation of that assumption is still largely missing. This chapter explores whether countries that have a more balanced, polycentric urban system have less regional disparities than countries dominated by one or two larger metropolitan areas (hence, monocentric countries). With new, updated measurements of regional disparities and levels of mono-/polycentricity of European countries, we find contrasting findings to our previous study (2008) into this matter. Our evidence points towards polycentric countries being associated with less regional disparities. Also, for North and West Europe we find that countries that are more monocentric witnessed a sharper increase in regional disparities between 2005-2016 than their more polycentric neighbours. We conclude that polycentric urban development may indeed contribute to achieving a more cohesive Europe.

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