An extended conceptual and analytical framework is elaborated where proximity in time as one dimension of a multidimensional concept of disparity is used as a tool to integrate space and time in comparative analysis. Time distance measures the difference in time (number of years) when two compared units achieve a given level of the indicator. Time distance emphasises a novel perspective of disparity between the compared units, and time is a universal unit of measurement comparable between countries, levels and units of comparison. It complements rather than substitutes for conventional measures, at the conceptual level the overall degree of disparity is looked upon as a weighted combination of static and dynamic dimensions of disparity.
The comparative analysis of socio-economic data sometimes employs comparison across time within a country, e.g. monitoring trends in productivity, per capita income or unemployment. Alternatively, comparison is made across space between countries, e.g. comparing the level of productivity or unemployment in different countries at a given point in time. In each case, the analysis seeks to identify disparities. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the advantage of analysing disparities, referred to often as inequalities or differences, by intergrating comparisons across both time and space. Empirical examples from the regions (republics and autonomous provinces) of the former Yugoslavia are used to provide empirical illustrations of this expanded analytical framework
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