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A statistics-based method for cluster analysis of the forest sector at the national and subnational level in Germany

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The cluster concept in economics contributes to new research on the forest sector's role in national and regional economies, yet incompatible cluster definitions and a variety of methodologies impede an objective comparison of findings. However, governmental statistical reporting systems are not well suited for a direct assessment of the forest sector due to classificatory and methodological shortcomings. This research presents a more standardized approach in the form of a statistics-based method for forest sector benchmarking and monitoring. The specification of the method included an extended cluster definition based on the Classification of Economic Activities in the European Union (NACE) and the validation of two suitable national statistical reporting systems. Testing the method in a case study for Germany demonstrates its capacity to provide consistent socioeconomic information on forest and wood-based industries in a sectoral, spatial and temporal dimension. In 2004, the German forest cluster accounted for 100,000 companies, 150 billion Euro gross turnover and over 900,000 employees (approximately 3.5% of the national economy) and ranked among the strongest manufacturing sectors. Individual wood-based industries indicated regional concentrations in federal states of Germany. Over the past decade, the forest sector was marked by considerable losses in turnover and employment, which increasingly deviated from the overall economic development of Germany. The research contributes to a more standardized, empirical understanding of the forest sector's role in national and regional economies, supporting rational decision making in cluster policy and management.
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Keywords: Classification of Economic Activities in the European Union (NACE); Germany; cluster analysis; employment; forest sector; forest-based industries; wood manufacturing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Wald-Zentrum, Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat, Munster, Germany

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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