Convergence: Methodology

23 September 2020

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
  • R package 'convergEU: Monitoring Convergence of EU Countries'.

Perform convergence analysis using R

The R package implements the methodology for computing convergence as developed in Eurofound publicationUpward convergence in the EU: Concepts, measurements and indicators. In particular, the R package provides functions to calculate several measures of convergence after imputing missing values. The automated downloading of Eurostat data, followed by the production of country fiches and indicator fiches, makes it possible to produce automated reports presenting the full convergence analysis (as indicated in the report).

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

Perform convergence analysis using STATA

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.' The script allows the performance of convergence analysis on a given indicator uploaded from a local data source and produces a semi-automated output containing the full convergence analysis as presented in the report.

Perform convergence analysis in the EU using the convergEU app

The web-based tool 'convergEU' permits the analysis of upward convergence for the full set of indicators part of the Social Scoreboard accompanying the European Pillar of Social Rights as well as for a selected set of Eurofound indicators drawn from the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) and the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS). In five easy steps, the web-based tool can create a full upward convergence analysis: it downloads the data from Eurostat website automatically, then includes beta, sigma, delta, and gamma convergence measures as well as other measures to better understand country dynamics in a selected time period. A full indicator report or a country dynamic focus report are produced within 60 seconds.


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