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Spatial divergence of living standards during the economic growth phase in the periphery: A case study of North Karelia

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Author(s): Olli Lehtonen | Markku Tykkyläinen

Journal: Fennia : International Journal of Geography
ISSN 0015-0010

Volume: 189;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 47;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Living standard | spread effects | core-periphery

ABSTRACT
The advisability of an urban-centred growth strategy in sparsely populated parts of Europe has not been much analysed at micro-levels such as that of the postcode area. This paper investigates how regional disparities in living standards continued to increase during the technology-driven growth phase of 1993−2003, as exemplified by the case of North Karelia in Finland. Urban sprawl conveyed the spread effects of the rise in incomes, and the upsurge of living standards was concentrated in the neighbourhood of the provincial centre, Joensuu. Living standards faced a process of double divergence: between the central district of Joensuu and its commuter belt, and between the provincial core area and its hinterland, the latter consisting of rural areas and small towns dependent largely on natural resources. The spatial outcome of this socio-economic reorganization is a three-zone core-periphery pattern. As the economy grew, geographical shifts in wealth were consequences of the growth and mobility of certain social groups and strata. A wave of high living standards towards the outskirts of the provincial centre was generated by an expansion in commuting. The relative decline in living standards in the periphery was due to long-term rural decline and involved spatial restructuring.
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