Measuring the economic and social factors affecting regional development



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Planning for development is a difficult task insofar as there is no theory of development that can be readily translated into a development program. It might be said that the relevancy of research depends upon the correspondence of the theoretical preconceptions used with the environment to be observed and on the ease with which the research findings can be translated into policy statements. Economic development is a complex process which involves the interaction of numerous, economic, social and institutional variables. Also, attempts to create strategies to induce development must: contend with the structure of economic space. Reviewing some of the more recent and promising approaches to regional development it is found that growth center theory offers a useful point of view from which to observe development and that factorial analysis has been successfully used to constrict an index of development and to define the development process as a system of interacting socioeconomic variables. The conceptual framework used for this study is Gnnner Myrdal's theory of development and underdevelopment which sees development as the output of a social system made of economic, social, and institutional categories of conditions linked by causal relationships and characterized by a cumulative process in the direction of either growth on decline. The study uses a gravitational model to define a region of 103 counties in Central and South Texas. A number of available indicators are classified as economic, social, and institutional and factor analyzed to identify common patterns of variation amout the counties of the study region. Then, the factors so defined are used as data in a cluster analysis program and a number of homogeneous regions with respect to certain socio-economic and institutional characteristics are defined. The characteristics of the homogeneous subregions of the area under study when examined in relation to levels of economic development suggest the existence of certain relationships among the indicators used and the process of development that are not in disagreement with Nyrdal theory and that can be used by decision makers to detect regional development trends and formulate development plans. Certain limitations imposed upon the study did not permit the isolation and measurement of causal relationships but suggested promising areas of further research.



Social factors, Regional development