The information society and socio-economic sustainability in european regions. Spatio-temporal changes between 2011 and 2020
Due to the lack of research on the progress of the Information Society and the transition towards socio-economic sustainability from a spatio-temporal perspective, this paper analyses the evolution of the combination of information society in households and for individuals (ICT-H + i) and sustainable development goals (SDGs) of a socio-economic nature in European regions (NUTS 2) for the years 2011, 2018 and 2019–2020. The European Union is immersed in a rapid digital transformation of its territory in order to progress in the SDGs, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, and despite the fact that there are spatial differences between both dimensions, there has still not been a sufficiently in-depth analysis of their interrelationship at regional level. This scale of analysis is relevant in that we are dealing with areas with specific social and economic interactions and it coincides with the primordial unit of European regional policy. To this end, specific objectives have been established: a) measure the evolution of the variables that characterise the ICT-H + i-SDG combination in the years indicated; b) identify the factor models that define the interrelationships between ICT-H + i and SDGs, and the variability among European regions; and, c) measure, from a spatio-temporal perspective, the changes that have occurred in these factor models at European regional level. A database was developed with variables at NUTS 2 level taken from the “ICT usage in households and by individuals” (isoc_i)” survey and the SDG monitoring indicators of Agenda 2030 from Eurostat. The following were conducted: 1): a descriptive statistical analysis and an analysis of spatial distribution to measure the evolution of these variables; 2) a factor analysis to identify the models of interdependence between these variables for each year; and 3) the creation of a series of maps of the factors obtained in order to measure the changes at European regional level. The results indicate that European regions progressed in the implementation of ICT-H + i and in the achievement of SDGs in their socio-economic dimension (with the exception of GDP per capita) from 2011 to 2020; the COVID-19 pandemic modified the use of ICT-H + i and the achievement of the SDGs of an economic and social nature, leading to opposite behaviour to the period 2011–18; and regional differences in 2020 were due to the sustainable development indicators, producing convergence in the levels of digitalisation of individuals and households.
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