Baltic Sea Region Territorial Monitoring System

Overall benchmarking - Visualization

Despite the relatively faster growth rat of the BSR, the material welfare gap of the region, here represented by GDP/capita in 2010 is still much persistent when compared to the peer regions. At a first glance, this appears not to be the case. Indeed, in 2010, the difference between the highest and the lowest value of regional GDP/capita ranged from 332 to 55 (=277 points) in the Alpine space, 357 to 58 (=299 points) in the NSR and 248 to 28 in the BSR, which would indicate smallest differences in the BSR.

However, when not only considering the uttermost extremes but also the overall distribution of NUTS 3 regions between these extremes in the three peer areas, then the spatial inequality of the BSR rises to levels much above its peer regions. These differences are not as expected primarily due to an east-west gap in the BSR, but they are pronounced within the eastern parts of the region. This is indicated by a coefficient of variance for E-BSR (0.42) being nearly on a par with the corresponding ditto for the entire BSR (0.44). However, one may also note that interregional differences in the Western parts of BSR only are even slightly lower than those of the other two peer regions.

The rate of real economic growth has been much faster in the BSR than in the benchmarked transnational regions. During 2005-2010, the BSR outperformed the Alpine Space by 8.2 percentage units, and the North Sea Region by as much as 11.0 percentage units. A lion’s share of this comparable advancement is due to the rapid catch-up of eastern BSR, where summarised economic growth 2005-2010 outperformed its western counterpart by as much as 15.1 percentage units. The 2008 downturn in economic growth was in the BSR more severe than was the case in the Alpine Space, but less so than in the NSR. The reduction in economic output was particularly severe in the western parts of the BSR, where production between 2008 and 2009 fell three times as much than was the case in the east. Furthermore, also the subsequent catch-up of particularly the eastern BSR, but also the western parts of it, was more rapid lifting the BSR far above its peer regions in this sense.

During the three-year period 2005-2008, some three million new jobs were created in the BSR, two in the east, one in the west. In relative terms this implied an employment increase of some 6 %, twice the corresponding growth rate of the NSR. In the subsequent crisis of 2008, the BSR lost approximately half a million jobs, equally distributed between east and west alike. In relative terms the reduction in the BSR was of a similar magnitude as that in the NSR. In relative terms however the downturn in the eastern BSR was close to twice as high as that in the western parts of the region.

The BSR on the whole is not attractive to migrants. Migration to the BSR has during the latter years of the last decade on average been only a quarter of that of the Alpine Space, and also roughly a third of the corresponding rate in the NSR. This is largely due to substantial emigration for the eastern BSR. Indeed, net migration to the western BSR has been stronger in relative terms than to the NSR, and also after 2009 converging on the high attractivity of the Alpine Space. Migration rates in the Alpine Space were reduced to two thirds after the financial crisis of 2008. Such a development is not perceptible in the BSR, where east and west alike have displayed similar modest rates of increase also after this year. The attractivity of the NSR appears to be on a slightly faster increase than that of the BSR.

The median life expectancy at birth of the BSR was 77.8 years in 2010. The corresponding median value for the NSR was 80.8 years and for the Alpine Space as much as 82.0 years. Little as this difference may seem in relative terms, it is nonetheless a gap representing several decades of development in health care, health education, etc. What truly separates the BSR from its continental counterparts is the huge gap between east and west in terms of general population health. While median regional life expectancy in western BSR is on a par (80.7 years in 2010) with that of the NSR, the same value for the eastern BSR is as low as 75.6 years. The interregional inequality within the BSR is thus expectedly on a far higher level than is the case in the peer regions.

The average multimodal accessibility potential of the BSR is more than 30 % lower than the corresponding rate for the Alpine Space (Figure 6). This is in a way natural, for the Alpine Space is amongst the most accessible regions of Europe. The fact that accessibility of the BSR also is some 27 % lower than the NSR, like the BSR home to some of Europe’s more extreme peripheries, however implies that the communication network of the BSR is still severely handicapped in comparison to the others. In contrast to the two peer regions, the BSR has during the period 2001-2006 increased its accessibility by two percentage units compared to the EU27 average. The trend in the two peer regions in contrast points in another direction. As a comparison to the EU average inevitably implies that if someone gains (in relative terms), some one else looses, this development is not in any way unique.

Based on NUTS 3 level data for the EU parts of the BSR (thus excluding NW Russia, Belarus and Norway), some 225 m² of land per capita was converted from green or agricultural space into artificial land during the year 2006. This data is based on the interregional median in the BSR, not its average. The corresponding value for the peer regions was 210 m² / inhabitant in the NSR and as little as 197 m² in the Alpine Space. The rate of change in the BSR thus exceeded that of its peer regions. However, this indicator does not take into account the amount of available un-built surface per inhabitant, and in such a comparison, the BSR would most likely exceed its peer regions by horse lengths. Indeed, when examining which types of regions have the highest new soil sealing rate in the BSR, particularly semi-sparsely populated agricultural regions stand out, whereas densely built urban areas score very low on this indicator.

In the most average BSR EU region, the air quality was deemed as very poor on 15 days during the year 2009. This number does not differ markedly from those of its peer regions. However, as data for Norway and particularly for Belarus and NW Russia is excluded, this estimate has to be considered indicative alone.

(C) ESPON BSR-TeMo, RRG, 2013