What economic and non-economic factors determine an individual's well-being? And how can these be applied when assessing the convergence of Europe's regions in terms of performance? These were the key questions addressed by Professor Luisa Corrado under the EURECON project - 'Regional convergence clusters across Europe: methodological issues and empirical evidence'.
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The project undertaken from 2005 to 2007 at the University of Cambridge and supported by a Marie Curie Actions (MCAs) fellowship looked at the economic and non-economic determinants of well-being across Europe and asked what level - individual, regional or national - matters most for individual well-being and whether the key underlying drivers differ within and between these different levels.
The results revealed a more varied set of drivers underlying individual well-being across regions in Europe than previously assumed. For certain non-economic variables, regional factors have a very significant effect of an individual's position.
"The topic of my research is currently quite central to the European Policy debate," Professor Corrado explains. "The analysis of 'subjective well-being' continues to gather momentum as governments have shown an increasing interest in moving beyond just economic indicators to gauge national performance."
"More importantly my research did find disparities both in income and subjective well-being both across nations and across regions in Europe. If economic cohesion is to be achieved across European regions then just targeting economic variables is not enough. Paying greater attention to subjective well-being at the regional level could have significant implications for social intervention and even for economic policy," she suggests.
For the research achievements of the EURECON project Professor Corrado was awarded the Marie-Curie Excellence Award in 2008 and she was commended by the jury as "an outstanding young researcher who is working in a field of great interest to the public...a model candidate for the Marie Curie Award".
The results of the EURECON project, particularly the research on the determinants on individual well-being, received widespread media coverage worldwide provoking a lively debate in professional circles.
With articles published in leading academic journals such as The Economic Journal, Journal of Regional Science, the Journal of Economic Geography, Regional Studies and many more, the project results have received great visibility in the research community. "Without the Marie Curie Fellowship I would have never been able to achieve such remarkable results – both in terms of visibility and of quality of the research output," Professor Corrado says. "The fellowship gave me for the first time total autonomy and the opportunity to achieve leadership in my research area."
The success of the project and the mobility afforded under Marie Curie Actions helped secure her current position as Associate Professor at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Faculty of Economics (Department DEDI). The EURECON project has also given her the opportunity to establish long terms collaborations with several research centres in Cambridge. She has been appointed Research Associate at the Centre for International Macroeconomics and Finance (CIMF), the Centre for Microeconomics (CReMic), and associate of Cambridge Finance (CF), an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Cambridge.
Her ground-breaking work continues with particular focus on more fundamental research questions regarding cross-country and inter-personal comparability in subjective well-being and developing a statistical framework for such research which can feed into public policy responses.