Call for papers

Development traps in European regions

The Special Issue aims to stimulate a conversation and debate about how development traps can hinder the development trajectories of European regions and what policy options can be used to address this potential challenge.

Guest editors:

Ron Boshma, Utrecht University

Marco Cucculelli, Università Politecnica delle Marche

Donato Iacobucci, Università Politecnica delle Marche


The concept of development trap was introduced to identify regions trapped in persistent patterns of low economic growth and stagnation (Iammarino et al. 2020). It refers to regions that face significant structural changes in retrieving past dynamism or improving prosperity for residents. The concept draws inspiration from the middle-income trap in international development theory, but extends it to highlight traps in higher-income countries and at the regional scale. At the regional level, the development trap can be defined as the state of a region that is unable to maintain its economic dynamism in terms of income, productivity and employment, while also underperforming its national and European peers on these same dimensions (Storper, Iammarino Rodriguez-Pose and Diemer, 2022). In other words, a region is in a development trap if the prosperity of its inhabitants does not improve compared to its past performance and the prevailing economic conditions in national and European markets.

Aims and scope

The special issue aims to discuss the economic analysis and policy implications of development traps in Europe, how to define and measure them, what to do about them, how to deal with them successfully and how to avoid them in the future. This is crucial for the policy of smart specialization in places that are in a trap or at risk of falling into one.

Indicative topics

A non-exhaustive list of suggested topics is provided below:

  • The economic rationale for traps and the link to the literature on the middle-income trap
  • Measurement and definition issues
  • Development trap and place-based policy
  • Addressing the trap: the institutional view
  • Addressing the trap: the policy perspective
  • Addressing the trap: the market and business perspective

Manuscript submission information:

The EM – Journal of Applied Economics submission system will be open for submissions to our Special Issue from 6th May 2024. When submitting your manuscript, please indicate explicitly “SI: Development traps in European Regions” in the submission form.

Please submit your manuscript by June 15, 2024.

All submissions that are suitable for peer review will be reviewed by at least two independent reviewers. Accepted manuscripts will be published in the second issue of the journal (October 2024).

Please read the Author's Guide before writing the manuscript. The Guide for Authors and the link to the submission process can be found in this section of the journal’s website: