Published February 28, 2023 | Version Original
Journal article Open

Social services of general interest in European regions: a look at "territorial cohesion" in the economic crisis context

  • 1. Centre of Geographical Studies, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon
  • 2. Centre of Geographical Studies and Associated Laboratory TERRA, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon


Services of general interest (SGI) and specifically social services of general interest (SSGI) are a cornerstone of the European model of  society. Nevertheless, the political and economic changes in most member states have evolved towards less public intervention,  whereby regional disparities in service provision have increased, putting territorial cohesion at stake. This study identifies the main  drivers of regional disparities in the provision of SSGI in different years (2006, 2012, 2016 and 2019). A Principal Component Analysis  PCA) followed by a cluster analysis for each year resulted in a common list of indicators (demographic, socioeconomic and provision of services), verifying their associations with European regions. Four main drivers were found, the most important ones being  socioeconomic conditions and health/social care and Urbanization and higher education, showing that SSGI as economic services are susceptible to economic competition and agglomeration forces. Furthermore, the analysis indicates that regions located in more  robust economies or in countries with stronger welfare regimes tend to have better scores on the provision factors. We conclude that SSGI, although it is dwarfed and commanded by socioeconomic aspects, greatly promotes territorial cohesion, even during harsh economic crisis. 


The paper is published by the European Journal of Spatial Development (EJSD).

The previous version of the journal was host by Nordregio.



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