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One thing leads to another: economic polarizations and social disparities in a pre-crisis Mediterranean city

Luca Salvati and Pere Serra

International Review of Applied Economics, 2019, vol. 33, issue 3, 353-383

Abstract: While economic restructuring has increased spatial polarizations in European cities, the relationship with the evolving social context has been relatively unstudied. The present study investigates socioeconomic disparities in pre-crisis Athens, Greece, focusing on changes in spatial distribution of businesses driven by urban development following the 2004 Olympics. Data from the national business register for 2002 and 2007 were used to localize businesses at the municipal scale according to a standard classification of economic activities (Stakod03). A factor analysis identified the main gradients in the spatial distribution of businesses in the Athens’ metropolitan region, the most relevant changes in the concentration of businesses over the study period and the social indicators associated with the dominant localization patterns for both industry and services. A confirmative analysis was run on 2008 data derived from an updated classification of economic activities (Stakod08). Two variables (average per-capita declared income and distance from the inner city) identified recent patterns of economic polarization in Athens. Advanced services (real estate, informatics, research and development, banking and finance) were concentrated in the wealthiest municipalities of the area. In contrast with traditional urban structures dominated by industrial activities (construction and light manufacturing) and routine services (commerce and trade and public administration), the Athens’ production base became progressively more divided at the metropolitan scale, reflecting the increased concentration of advanced services in the wealthiest districts. The territorial disparities resulting from such transformations may have weakened the local recovery from the 2008 economic crisis.

Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1080/02692171.2018.1495696

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