Convergence: Methodology

10 december 2018

In order to carry out its convergence research, Eurofound in 2018 provided the first formal mathematical definition of upward convergence. In its pioneering and data-driven work, Eurofound defines upward convergence as the condition that is realised when the performance of Member States improves, moving closer to an ideal policy target, alongside a narrowing of the disparities among them.

Upward convergence (to move closer together upward) is the union of two concepts: the first one being improvements/increases in performance, the second one being convergence (the reduction of disparities). Therefore, measuring upward convergence means to measure both concepts: improvement and convergence in performance.

The concept of improvement of performance is related to a policy target (the desirable direction of movement of the indicator, as for example towards better living and working conditions). This implies a normative interpretation of the ‘improvement’ of an indicator, which technically may happen by an increase or decrease in the level of the indicator. For example, in the case of the employment rate, upward convergence is observed when the indicator increases and disparities among countries decline, while for the unemployment rate upward convergence is observed when the indicator declines and disparities among countries decrease. Therefore, the concept of upward convergence is a normative concept strictly related to the policy target.

Eurofound has developed a monitoring tool to investigate upward convergence. 

Monitoring tool

The main features of the Eurofound monitoring tool include:

  • downloading data from Eurostat surveys
  • computation of beta-convergence (catching up effect of lower performing countries towards the best performers)
  • computation of sigma-convergence (reduction of absolute levels of disparities)
  • computation of delta-convergence (reduction of distance form best performer)
  • computation of gamma-convergence (mobility of ranking)
  • investigation of Member State dynamics and magnitude of convergence
  • preparation of automatic indicators and country fiches
  • Cran.r: R package 'convergEU: Monitoring Convergence of EU Countries'

The following working paper contains the package description and its function, including fully developed examples.

The basis for the development of the R package is the STATA script developed out of the project 'Eurofound, 2018, Upward convergence in the EU: Concepts, measurements and indicators, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.'

A web-based tool will be made available in the near future.

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