Skip to main content
Living conditions and quality of life

EurofoundLIVE webinar - Bridging the rural–urban divide in Europe: upgrading the European Union convergence machine


Eurofound is organising a live interactive webinar on bridging the rural-urban divide in Europe with a live Q&A on Wednesday 29 November 2023. Time: 14:00 - 15:00 GMT or Irish Time / 09:00-10:00 Eastern Standard Time.




Online Livestorm webinar platformDublinIreland

Online event
Organised by


Join us in this #EurofoundLive panel debate webinar exploring the latest research findings on the impact of the rural–urban divide in Europe.

Massimiliano Mascherini, Head of Social policies at Eurofound, and Marie Hyland, Research officer in the Social policies unit at Eurofound, will present the latest research findings from Bridging the rural-urban divide: Addressing inequalities and empowering communities on the differences in social, political, cultural, economic and living conditions between rural and urban areas and consider whether such differences may pose a threat to social cohesion in Europe. Michèle Lamont, Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, will provide her views and insights into the recognition factor and how that plays out. The debate will be moderated by Mary McCaughey, Head of Information and Communication at Eurofound.

The place in which people reside is a significant component of their identity and influences their daily lives and activities. Eurofound’s research shows that the socioeconomic gaps between rural and urban communities can have profound implications for how rural and urban residents feel. Rural residents are more likely than those in urban areas to feel that they, themselves or their communities, are mistreated, disrespected or ignored by their governments. As a consequence, rural residents have lower levels of trust in their governments and in the European Union, and express lower levels of satisfaction with democracy, than those in urban areas.

On average, incomes are higher in urban areas than in rural areas, and the rural–urban income gap has increased by approximately 19% over the past decade. But this average increase masks the fact that rural–urban inequalities in income have been falling in some Member States, including Germany and the Netherlands. Gaps in the provision of public services between rural and urban areas are also increasing. Declining and ageing populations pose challenges to future service provision, especially in rural areas. However, across Member States, there are many examples of innovative solutions providing public services to those living in remote areas.

Research has highlighted in particular the growing divide between northern and southern EU Member States and has called for an upgrade to the 'convergence machine' - the EU territorial convergence policies, placing an increased focus on lagging rural regions.

Join us in this timely debate with our experts on why understanding and addressing the rural-urban divide in Europe is crucial ahead of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, and to several EU national parliaments.



Webinar speaker image: Maria Jepsen

Speaker: Michèle Lamont, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

Michèle Lamont is Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University. An influential cultural sociologist who studies boundaries and inequality, she has tackled topics such as dignity, respect, stigma, racism, class and racial boundaries, and how we evaluate social worth across societies. Her most recent book is Seeing Others: How Recognition Works and How It Can Heal a Divided World (forthcoming with Simon and Schuster, September 2023). After studying with Pierre Bourdieu and others in Paris in the early eighties, Lamont emerged as a pioneer in cultural and comparative sociology, helping to define these fields as we know them today. Her many awards include the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems for The Dignity of Working Men, the 2014 Guttenberg Award, the 2017 Erasmus Prize, and honorary doctorates from six countries. She served as President of the American Sociological Association in 2016, was a Carnegie Fellow in 2021-2022, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2023. She co-chaired the advisory board to the 2022 United Nations Human Development Report, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a World in Transformation.”

Speaker: Massimiliano Mascherini, Head of Social Policies, Eurofound

Massimiliano Mascherini has been Head of the Social Policies unit at Eurofound since October 2019. He joined Eurofound in 2009 as a research manager, designing and coordinating projects on youth employment, NEETs and their social inclusion, as well as on the labour market participation of women. In 2017, he became a senior research manager in the Social Policies unit where he spearheaded new research on monitoring convergence in the EU. In addition to work on the European Quality of Life Survey, he also leads the preparation and analysis of the COVID-19 e-surveys. Previously, he was scientific officer at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. He studied at the University of Florence, where he majored in actuarial and statistical sciences and attained a PhD in Applied Statistics. He has been visiting fellow at the University of Sydney and at Aalborg University and visiting professor at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Speaker: Marie Hyland, Research Officer, Eurofound

Marie Hyland joined Eurofound as a research officer in the Social Policies unit in 2023. Prior to this, Marie spent several years as an economist at the World Bank, where she worked on a range of issues including gender, climate change and private sector development. Marie’s research has looked at the impact of legal discrimination on women’s economic empowerment, considered the role of firm size and managerial practices on productivity and economic development, and analysed the economics of climate change mitigation policies. Marie holds a PhD in Economics from Trinity College Dublin.

Moderator: Mary McCaughey, Head of Information and Communication, Eurofound

Mary McCaughey is Head of Information and Communication in Eurofound. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the College of Europe, Bruges, she started work in Brussels with Europolitics and the Wall Street Journal Europe. She worked with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) in South Africa during the country’s transition to democracy, and in 1998 she took up the post of spokesperson with the Delegation of the European Union in Pretoria, heading up its press and information department during the negotiation of the EU–South Africa free trade agreement. Following the end of the Kosovo War, she worked as a communications consultant for the European Agency for Reconstruction in Serbia. She took up the post of Editor-in-Chief in Eurofound in 2003.


When freely submitting your request, you are consenting Eurofound in handling your personal data to reply to you. Your request will be handled in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data. More information, please read the Data Protection Notice.