45th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Land Use and Water Management in a Sustainable Network Society", 23-27 August 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This paper investigates differences in the rate of growth of population across the large city-regions of the EU12 between 1980 and 2000. The US model which assumes perfect factor mobility does not seem well adapted to European conditions. There is evidence strongly suggesting that equilibrating migration flows between cities in different countries are highly constrained in the EU. However, quality of life motives do seem to be a significant and important feature of differential population growth rates if measured relative to national rather than EU12 values. Once other factors are allowed for, a systematic and highly significant factor determining rates of urban population growth is climatic variation. Cities with better weather than that of their countries have systematically tended to gain population over the past 20 years once other factors – including natural rates of increase in the areas of each country outside the major cities - are allowed for: there is no such effect for climate variables if expressed relative to the value of the EU12 as a whole. On the other hand, there is evidence that the systematic spatial gains from European integration are reflected in a city's population growth. The results are tested for spatial dependence and remain robust.