The Portuguese Association for Regional Development started a new cycle of workshops aimed at bringing together scientists that consider family as an institution with several and important interactions with economic and social development. This theme seems to have been dismissed by regional development scientists, even though it appears the family dimension is clearly relevant in educational processes and in dynamic migration, in transport systems, in social security systems and welfare services provision, in corporate sustainability and entrepreneurship, and in many other dimensions that influence the development of people and places.
The 20th APDR workshop (April 2014) was dedicated to this theme - Family and Development – and it was a first step in the direction of a more intense and rich debate about family and regional development. It is well known by demographers and sociologists that families may be quite different across Europe and across different regions of a single country. Evidence from diverse transition to adulthood patterns (age and dynamics of leaving home, forming independent households, living alone, forming unions and/or marrying, having a first child) is quite expressive about this. These differences, as others concerning ownership and family structures, are the result of different historical conditions and paths of change, as well of different strategies contemporary families adopt in order to cope with economic and sociopolitical contexts and dynamics.
On the other hand, family bonds are quite important in some corporate branches and/or in some territories and regions. The informal networks and the complex articulation between family and business strategies and management have been studied for years, with particular relevance in southern economies, such as Portugal, Spain and Italy. It is relevant to deepen our knowledge about these long lasting articulations, about their benefits as well as their undesirable effects, and about the way family and economy evolve in different places.
We are now willing to bring together, one more time, different scientific perspectives on the theme Family and Regional Development, with a particular attention being given to the Southern Europe. It is necessary to understand better family dynamics and diversity, how these affect social and economic processes at a regional scale, and to profound our knowledge about how family business imply the consideration of specific concepts and methodologies in order to provide a better understanding of this phenomenon, so important in our economies.