Human capabilities and regional disparities

Labrianidis, Lois; Kalogeresis, Thanasis; Thanis, Elias; Panori, Natasa; Andrikopoulou, Eleni; Gemenetzi, Georgia; Kafkalas, Grigoris; Kakderi, Christina; Thoidou, Elisavet; Skordili, Sophia; Melissourgos, Yorgos; Psycharis, Yannis; Rovolis, Antonis; Tselios, Vasilis; Pantazis, Panagiotis (2014). 'Human capabilities and regional disparities' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

Overall theme

The main theme of the proposed session is the investigation of the role of human capabilities as a major factor in shaping regional disparities and the development prospects of different areas. In so doing the invited presentations will try to highlight the role of factors such as education and skills in shaping human capabilities and the development trajectories of regions. What is of particular interest is that in order to analyze how geography shapes this relation we seek to establish linkages between two large bodies of literature that remain largely unexplored: economic geography and human capabilities. The large and evolving literature of economic geography views space and territory as the loci of complex and intertwined social, economic and political flows, struggles and power relations leading to development or underdevelopment. 

We should note that although all presentations are products of one research project, they employ different, but compatible definitions of capabilities, some of which are more faithful to the original capability approach taxonomies, while others tend to rely on more quantifiable attributes. Furthermore, the presentations differ to their use of primary and secondary data sources which partly reflect the differences of the adopted conceptual approaches.

Panel Set-up

  1. Kalogeresis A. , Labrianidis L., Thanis E. and Panori N., 'Education and development through a capabilities perspective'

Education is widely considered to be one of the main explanatory variables of growth (and development). By augmenting knowledge and / or technology, investment in education has come to be considered equivalent, if not more valuable than capital investment.

The main aim of the presentation is a thorough discussion of the various approaches relating education and development. Through the use of two particularly extensive (both in terms of size and scale) surveys we aim to empirically test the role of education in shaping human capabilities in a developed country setting (Greece). Additionally, we aim at uncovering possible linkages between two large bodies of literature. Specifically, economic geography which  views space and territory as the loci of complex and intertwined social, economic and political flows, struggles and power relations leading to development or underdevelopment, and the capabilities perspective which will allow us a better conceptualization of development and underdevelopment

2.  Andrikopoulou E., Gemenetzi G., Kafkalas G., Kakderi C. and Thoidou E., 'Spatial organization and human capabilities: an exploration of their relationship with reference to the region of Central Macedonia'

In recent years the role of human capabilities is associated with the performance of regions and the characteristics of their spatial organization. The study of this relationship follows an approach consisting of three steps: the identification of the key components, the elaboration of the corresponding indicators and the selection of the appropriate spatial typology. First the key components are identified as the labor market profile, the innovation potential and the resilience of a regional (local) economy. Second, the corresponding indicators refer to the existing human capabilities, the socio-economic features and the institutional arrangements prevailing in the region. Finally, the selected spatial typology is based upon spatial development patterns built around the construction of functional urban areas. The empirical research focuses on the region of Central Macedonia and evidence is drawn from either existing databases or/and the ongoing fieldwork. The preliminary findings provide significant insights into the relationship of human capabilities with spatial development patterns. 


3. Skordili S. and Melissourgos Y., 'Economic crisis as an opportunity for human-centered and greener development of Greek regions'

In the midst of the prolonged recession, day-in, day-out, a number of small local firms, mainly in agro-food and tourist sectors, are emerging all over the country. Too often it is taken for granted that these initiatives are always associated with benign and desired outcomes:  they   can instantly provide new employment opportunities and income to the victims of the current crisis, give a strong boost to local economies and lead to more just and sustainable development. However these qualities are not given, neither guaranteed. Local firms are equally likely to be just or unjust, sustainable or unsustainable. This is certainly the case for a big number of traditional food SMEs operating in Greece.

The paper, which draws material from a recent field work survey, attempts to evaluate the development prospects of these initiatives and to identify the crucial qualities they should espouse to contribute to a more human and green development.


4. Psycharis Y., Rovolis A., Tselios V. and Pantazis P., 'Regional inequalities, human capabilities and employment in Greece'

Fluctuations in employment and unemployment across space reflect the conditions in the labor market, and the interaction between economic environment and peoples capabilities. In this paper we analyze the trends in regional employment and unemployment in Greece placing specific attention to the role of human capabilities and education between 2001 and 2013. Using statistical data on regional employment and applying exploratory techniques, we will indentify the role of human capabilities and education in regional employment. More specifically, we will explore whether human capabilities is positively related to employment creation and whether this possible relationship is moderated by geographical factors, such as urban-rural, north-south and island-mainland divide. We also test whether human capabilities make regions more resistant to the current economic crisis. Finally, we will explore the relative prominence of human capabilities in comparison with other factors that are also included in our analysis and are considered as determinants for employment changes such as economic development and growth, populations ageing, trade openness and public infrastructure.  


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