Regional Development

Regional Development Policies in OECD Countries


Key policy issues | Key findings and future directions | Table of contents

How to obtain this book | Related information

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Pages 384


Policy makers need both a handy reference guide to the regional policies of their own and other countries and a broader analysis of trends in regional policies, based on sound, comparable information. Regional Policies in OECD Countries responds to this need. It is the first systematic, comparative analysis of OECD countries’ regional policies.

It begins with an overview of the regional policy today. This is followed by country profiles covering OECD members. The profiles share a common conceptual framework, allowing countries to see how their experiences measure up. The report also contains several annexes, which provide an outline of regional policies in the EU. The annexes also cover the key topics of cross-border co-operation and trends in urban-rural linkages, with a focus on efforts to control urban sprawl.

The report will help countries to better understand regional policies and to formulate and diffuse horizontal policy recommendations. The analysis suggests an important role for regional policies in shaping sustainable endogenous development, in particular well-developed governance mechanisms to better respond to the different opportunities and demands of regions and to improve policy efficiency.

This report is a unique source of regional policy information and of special interest to policy makers, researchers, and others engaging with regional development.


Key policy issues


The report addresses fundamental regional policy concerns, such as: 

  • problem recognition
  • the objectives of regional policy
  • the legal/institutional framework
  • the urban/rural framework
  • budget structures
  • the governance mechanisms linking national and sub-national governments as well as sectors

Key findings and future directions


In order to examine the reality of the paradigm shift of regional policies and the extent to which the paradigm has been implemented, it is important to understand the factors behind the rationale of each country’s regional policy, its governance structure, and what objectives it sets out to achieve. This publication provides answers to these questions by presenting a comparison of regional development policies across OECD member countries. This is the first time the OECD has undertaken a systematic collection of regional policy data. It will enable us to measure the degree to which regional policy frameworks have adopted a competitiveness focus. Of note is the policy shift of European countries to the new paradigm, which has been supported by the new orientation of the Lisbon agenda. This systematic review of country strategies for regional development policy should be regularly updated and further elaborated.
Furthermore, in the future, a set of policy indicators could be developed and monitored which could be used in decision-making processes. Relationships should be analysed, for example coherency between policy objectives and policy tools. We must ask ourselves: what issues should be considered when establishing indicator systems and improving them over time?


Table of contents


Chapter 1. Regional Development Policy Trends in OECD Member Countries

Chapter 1 summarises the trends of regional development policies in OECD member countries, beginning with problem recognition (the problems or challenges recognised by the country) and the objectives of regional development policies, followed by an overview of the legal and institutional framework including major policy tools, the urban/rural policy framework and the budget system. Finally, institutional aspects such as multi-level governance and horizontal governance are presented. The analysis suggests an important role for regional policies in shaping sustainable endogenous development, notably the need for well-developed governance mechanisms capable of better responding to the diverse opportunities and demands of different regions in order to improve policy efficiency.

Chapter 2. Country profiles

Each of the 32 OECD member country profiles uses a common conceptual framework, which allows countries to share their experiences. The profile covers key issues, such as problem recognition, the objectives of regional policy, legal/institutional frameworks, urban/rural frameworks, budget structures, and governance mechanisms between national and sub-national governments as well as across sectors.


Annex A. Profiles of EU Policy
Annex B. Comparative Analysis of Cross-border Co-operation in OECD Member Countries
Annex C. Urban-rural Linkages: In View of Controlling Urban Sprawl


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