Comparative Analysis of Socio-Demographic Dynamics in Carbon-Intensive Regions in Transition

August 2023


This deliverable reflects the status of knowledge and research on the objectives, and findings under the subsection of Work package (WP) 2: WP2.3. socio-demographic dimension (focussing on migration and inequalities) of transition dynamics in four carbon-intensive regions of Europe, namely Ida-Virumaa (Estonia), North-Rhine Westphalia (Germany), Silesia (Poland) and Western Macedonia (Greece). The workflow was set out in the task specific research protocol (M2.3), a questionnaire for semi-structured interviews with an accompanying consent form was designed.
The first subtask 2.3.1. Comparative analysis of socio-demographic implications was led by the research team
at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies and focused on migration in the light of transition. This study found by using descriptive and the multilevel analyses strong evidence that carbon-intensive regions underperform on a wide range of social indicators in comparison to any other type of regions. Their performance is however a function of the overall economic, social and infrastructural situation of each country.
Meanwhile, the research team at the Estonian Environmental Research Centre (EERC) collaborated with the regional partners and carried out the second subtask 2.3.2. in-depth analysis of selected issues. This task comprises two sub-subtasks: (1) Socio-demographic developments and governance in times of transition
(partly covered in subtask 2.3.1), and (2) Gender implications and inequalities (gender, ethnic, health
and age). EERC research was building on the desk research on regional difference but widening by obtaining information from in-depth semi-structural interviews in the case study regions. In general, it was concluded that the future of the current mining areas is closely linked to the general well-being (e.g. income, quality of health care, unemployment support/retraining options) of the country where carbon-intensive regions are situated in. In
Silesia and Ida-Virumaa the interview results were somewhat contradictory to the statistical data that shows
economic and social decline of the regions reflecting peoples’ identities linked to the region and hope for better
future and not depicting them as victims of the transition to a low carbon economy. This again shows that
particularly in poorer EU Member States more attention needs to be paid to the people living in the regions
transitioning from a high carbon to a low carbon economy – to their mental, social and economic well-being and
their own identities and visions of their future in the region. We also note that better collection of detailed regional, age, ethnicity-based and gender specific data is needed for mining regions allowing for better understanding of inequalities and drivers behind these.
On the gender aspects of transition to a low-carbon economy two academic papers (Walk, et al., 2021; Braunger
and Walk, 2022), that are based on desk research, have been already published. The analyses conclude that
major sustainability transition processes that cause redistribution of resources can be an opportunity for society
to overcome existing unjust power relations, such as gender inequalities. However, there must be a better
understanding of the effects of transformation dynamics on inequalities. A tool for the systematic analysis of
gender issues in transition research and a set of questions that can be used for designing gender-responsive
policies are provided in the papers.


  • Estonian Environmental Research Centre

  • Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche – wiiw

  • Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie

  • University of Silesia, Katowice; on behalf of WiseEuropa