European Regional Unemployment Data
Data for 'Unemployment clusters across Europe's regions and countries'
by Henry G. Overman and Diego Puga
This site distributes and documents the dataset of European regional (nuts2) unemployment rates and labour force created by Henry G. Overman and Diego Puga and used in their article 'Unemployment clusters across Europe's regions and countries', published in Economic Policy 34, April 2002: 115-147. Users of this dataset are asked to cite the Economic Policy article as the source. We would also appreciate it if you let us know the details of any paper in which you use the data by sending an email to Diego Puga (
The data is available for download from this site as comma-delimited file in ascii format (zipped):
The data set includes unemployment rates and labour force figures for all the nuts2 regions of the European Union (with a single exception, documented below) that satisfy the following three criteria:
- Have been part throughout the period 1986-1996 of the European Union (European Economic Community before 1 November 1993).
- Are in a Member State which has a land border with at least one other Member State containing at least one region satisfying (1).
- Have a land border with at least one other nuts2 region satisfying (1) and (2). We include as land borders water borders less than five kilometres wide. This leads us to consider as geographical neighbours regions separated by a river (such as Zeelland and Zuid-Holland in Netherlands). It also leads to the inclusion of Sicilia (Italy), which, although an island, is only separated from Calabria (Italy) by the 3,300 metres-wide Strait of Messina.
The data includes the following variables:
- nuts2_code: Code of nuts2 region.
- nuts2_name: Name of nuts2 region.
- ur_19xx: Unemployment rate (percent) in year 19xx.
- lf_19xx: Labour force (thousands of persons) in year 19xx.
Our definition of regions corresponds to level two of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (nuts), 1995 version (Eurostat, 1995). The nuts was established by Eurostat to provide comparable regional breakdowns of the Member States of the European Union. It is a hierarchical classification with three regional levels: each Member State is partitioned into an integral number of nuts1 regions, each of which is in turn partitioned into an integral number of nuts2 regions, each of which is in turn partitioned into an integral number of nuts3 regions. (There are two additional sub-regional or local levels, nuts4 and nuts5, of which only the latter, consisting of Communes or their equivalent, is defined for all Member States). In 1996 the European Union (eu) had 77 nuts1 regions, 206 nuts2 regions, and 1,031 nuts3 regions. Eurostat (1995) also calls nuts2 regions 'Basic Regions', and describes these as the appropriate level for analysing regional-national problems; it is also the level at which both national and Community regional policies are generally implemented.
nuts2 regions correspond to national administrative units in Austria (Bundesländer), Belgium (Provinces), Finland (Suuralueet), Germany (Regierungsbezirke), Greece (Development Regions), Italy (Regioni), Netherlands (Provincies), Portugal (Comissaoes de Coordenaçao Regional), and Sweden (Riksområden). nuts2 regions also correspond to national administrative units, but with exceptions, in France (Régions, plus the four Departements d'Outre Mer), and Spain (Comunidades Autónomas, plus Ceuta y Melilla). In 1996 three Member States were classified as a single nuts2 region: Denmark, Ireland, and Luxembourg. In the United Kingdom, Groups of Counties have been introduced as an intermediate (nuts2) level between nuts1 (Standard Regions) and nuts3 (a combination of Counties and Local Authority Regions) units.
From the 206 nuts2 regions that formed the eu in 1996, 30 are excluded from the analysis because they were not part of the European Economic Community in 1986: the nine nuts2 regions of Austria, the six nuts2 regions of Finland, and the eight nuts2 regions of Sweden, all of which became part of the eu with the accession of these three Member States in 1995; and the seven nuts2 regions of Germany that were part of the former Democratic Republic of Germany (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sachsen, Dessau, Halle, Magdeburg, and Thüringen), which only became part of the eu with German reunification in 1990. Greece has no land border with any other Member State, so its 13 nuts2 regions are also excluded. Finally, another 12 nuts2 regions are excluded because they have no land border with any other nuts2 region satisfying criteria (1)and (2): Baleares, Ceuta y Melilla, and Canarias (Spain), Corse, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, and Réunion (France), Sardegna (Italy), Açores, and Madeira (Portugal), are all entirely surrounded by water and/or by territories which are not part of the eu; Berlin (Germany) is entirely surrounded by nuts2 regions which were part of the former Democratic Republic of Germany.
Flevoland (Netherlands) is the only region that satisfies criteria (1)-(3) above but has been excluded due to lack of data: there is no labour force or unemployment data for Flevoland for 1986, even from national sources (see Centraal Bureau Voor de Statistiek, 1987). Flevoland was created as a separate administrative unit (Provincie) in 1986 from the union of the Noordoost, Oostelijk Flevoland, and Zuidelijk Flevoland polders, reclaimed from the IJsselllake (a lake that used to be part of Zuiderzee, a former inlet of the North Sea), and in 1996 accounted for 1.8% of the population and 5.8% of the land area of Netherlands.
The 150 nuts2 regions used are:
- Belgium (11): Brussels, Antwerpen, Limburg (Belgium), Oost-Vlaanderen, Vlaams Brabant, West-Vlaanderen, Brabant Wallon, Hainaut, Liége, Luxembourg (Belgium), Namur.
- Denmark (1)
- France (21): Ile-de-France, Champagne-Ardenne, Picardie, Haute-Normandie, Centre, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Lorraine, Alsace, Franche-Comté, Pays de la Loire, Bretagne, Poitou-Charentes, Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrénées, Limousin, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Languedoc- Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
- Germany (30): Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Freiburg, Tübingen, Oberbayern, Niederbayern, Oberpfalz, Oberfranken, Mittelfranken, Unterfranken, Schwaben, Bremen, Hamburg, Darmstadt, Giessen, Kassel, Braunschweig, Hannover, Lüneburg, Weser-Ems, Düsseldorf, Köln, Münster, Detmold, Arnsberg, Koblenz, Trier, Rheinhessen-Pfalz, Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein.
- Ireland (1)
- Italy (19): Piemonte, Valle d'Aosta, Liguria, Lombardia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Toscana, Umbria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia.
- Luxembourg (1)
- Netherlands (11): Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Gelderland, Utrecht, Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland, Zeeland, Noord-Brabant, Limburg (Netherlands).
- Portugal (5): Norte, Centro (Portugal), Lisboa e Vale do Tejo, Alentejo, Algarve.
- Spain (15): Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, País Vasco, Navarra, Rioja, Aragón, Madrid, Castilla-León, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Cataluña, Comunidad Valenciana, Andalucía, Región de Murcia.
- United Kingdom (35): Cleveland-Durham, Cumbria, Northumberland-Tyne and Wear, Humberside, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Derbyshire- Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire-Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, East Anglia, Bedfordshire-Hertfordshire, Berkshire-Buckinghamshire- Oxfordshire, Surrey-East-West Sussex, Essex, Greater London, Hampshire- Isle of Wight, Kent, Avon-Gloucestershire-Wiltshire, Cornwall-Devon, Dorset-Somerset, Hereford-Worcestershire-Warwickshire, Shropshire- Staffordshire, West Midlands (County), Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Clwyd-Dyfed-Gwynedd-Powys, Gwent-Mid- South-West Glamorgan, Borders-Central-Fife-Lothians-Tayside, Dumfries- Galloway-Strathclyde, Highlands-Islands, Grampian, Northern Ireland.
Regional unemployment rates and labour force from 1986 to 1996 are taken from the harmonised unemployment rates (Table
regio/unemp/un3rt) and labour force (Table
regio/unemp/un3wpop) in the May 1998 version of the Regio database published by Eurostat (Eurostat, 1998). These data were also made publicly available by Eurostat in various other ways, in particular through the printed publications in the series Regions: Statistical Yearbook.
These data are based on the results of the Community Labour Force Survey (lfs). The Community lfs is carried out in Spring each year and for each Member State provides the number of the unemployed (in accordance with the definition of the International Labour Office), and the labour force (labelled 'working population') for April. The national unemployment data are subsequently regionalised to nuts2 level on the basis of the number of persons registered at unemployment offices in April of the reference year (with the exceptions of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Finland, and Sweden, where the regional unemployment structures are taken from the Community lfs). The national labour force data are regionalised to nuts2 level according to the results of the Community lfs. The regional unemployment rates are then obtained by dividing the number of the unemployed by the labour force.
The Regio database has no data on unemployment rates or labour force for two years, 1986 and 1987, for 13 of the targeted regions: all the nuts2 regions of Netherlands, and Algarve (Portugal). For all of them (except the Dutch region of Flevoland, as documented above) comparable data has been obtained as follows. For the nuts2 regions of the Netherlands in 1986 and 1987, the total number of the unemployed in the Netherlands in Table
/regio/unemp/un3pers of the Regio database has been regionally disaggregated to nuts2 level, on the basis of the number of the unemployed in each region from Table ii.4 of Eurostat (1989), which are also derived from the Community lfs. Similarly, the total labour force of the Netherlands in Table
/regio/unemp/un3wpop of the Regio database has been regionally disaggregated to nuts2 level, on the basis of regional labour force figures from Table ii.2 of Eurostat (1990) (for 1986), and of regional labour force figures computed by dividing the number of the unemployed by the corresponding unemployment rates in Table ii.4 of Eurostat (1989) (for 1987). Regional unemployment rates have then been calculated by dividing the number of the unemployed by the labour force. For Algarve (Portugal) in 1986 and 1987, employment and unemployment figures have been privately obtained from national sources (Portugal's Instituto Nacional de Estatística for employment, and Direcçao de Serviços de Estudos de Mercado de Emprego for unemployment), and corrected for the factor by which each of these sources underestimates the corresponding Community lfs data for all the other nuts2 regions that, together with Algarve, constitute the nuts1 region Continente (Norte, Centro, Lisboa e Vale do Tejo, and Alentejo). Labour force has been calculated as the sum of the employed and the unemployed, and the unemployment rate by dividing the number of the unemployed by the labour force.
Centraal Bureau Voor de Statistiek. 1987. Regionaal Statistich Zakboek 1986. The Hague: Centraal Bureau Voor de Statistiek.
Eurostat. 1989. Regions: Statistical Yearbook 1988. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
Eurostat. 1990. Regions: Statistical Yearbook 1989. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
Eurostat. 1995. Regions: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (nuts). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
Eurostat. 1998. Regio Database. Luxembourg: Eurostat. May 1998 cd-rom version.
Overman, Henry G. and Diego Puga. 2002. Unemployment clusters across Europe's regions and countries. Economic Policy 34: 115-147.