The magnetism of Europe’s capital cities is getting ever stronger, sucking in more wealth and young people, and further widening the gulf between the continent’s metropolitan centers and their hinterlands. Such is the somewhat alarming picture presented by the new regional yearbook from Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical office, which reveals a continent that’s continuing to polarize.
Eurostat’s report shines a light on many trends you might expect, such as the ongoing prosperity of Germany and Scandinavia. Other factors emerge to complicate the picture. Economic progress has actually been swiftest in regions of the former Eastern Bloc, also (perhaps less surprisingly) the region with the greatest gaps between rural and urban living conditions. And while countries hit by economic crisis, such as Greece, still reveal the toughest conditions, the sheer pressure on city-dwellers is starting to tell even in Europe’s wealthiest cities, with a housing squeeze tangibly impoverishing many urbanites in Denmark and Switzerland.