Open Economies Review

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 703–724 | Cite as

Inequality and Unemployment Patterns in Europe: Does Integration Lead to (Real) Convergence?

  • Mercedes Monfort
  • Javier Ordóñez
  • Hector Sala
Research Article


The economic convergence criteria adopted in the Maastricht Treaty and the fiscal discipline of the Stability and Growth Pact enforced nominal convergence, leaving aside real convergence indicators. In this paper, we use cluster analysis to examine the convergence patterns of income inequality, absolute redistribution (a measure of governments’ effectiveness in correcting for inequality) and unemployment. The expected outcome after years of economic integration was, ex-ante, convergence to a single cluster. Our results, however, uncover a variety of groups, implying that economic integration has not led to real economic convergence. Moreover, the existence of different patterns suggests: (i) that traditional classifications (Anglo-Saxon, Continental European, European Periphery, and Nordic models) remain broadly valid; (ii) that there is no unemployment-inequality trade-off to be exploited in terms of economic policy; and (iii) that the redistributive capacity of governments plays a pivotal role in coping with inequality without negative effects in terms of unemployment.


Europe Convergence Clusters Unemployment Inequality Redistribution 

JEL classification

C33 D63 F15 



We acknowledge constructive comments received from an anonymous referee. Javier Ordóñez is member of the INTECO research Group and gratefully acknowledges the support from the Generalitat Valenciana Project PROMETEOII/201/053 and AICO/2016/38, Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness project ECO2017-83255-C3-3-P and the UJI project UJI-B2017-33. Hector Sala is grateful to the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness for financial support through grant ECO2016-75623-R.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mercedes Monfort
    • 1
    • 2
  • Javier Ordóñez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hector Sala
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Instituto de Economía InternacionalCastellón de la PlanaSpain
  2. 2.Universitat Jaume ICastellón de la PlanaSpain
  3. 3.Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  4. 4.IZABonnGermany

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