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Project: PODESERE

Population decline and self-reinforcement

As a result of low fertility and continuing urbanisation processes, rural areas around the globe are facing population decline. Such is also the case in the North of the Netherlands, which is considered to be the most rural part of the country. Regardless of the scale at which population decline is being observed, it is clear that such decreases have a wide range of consequences. Nevertheless, as the map on population change of North-Netherlands shows, large heterogeneity of population change exists within regions facing population decline. The aim of this project is to find out if population decline is a self-reinforcing process on the local level, in which population decline possibly causes the local living environment to be a less attractive place, which on its turn refuels the process of population decline through negative net migration. 

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Within this project four separate aspects of population decline and self-reinforcement are under research. Firstly, a quantitative study analyses if individuals from places which face population decline are more likely to move out than individuals from places where the population is stable or growing. Secondly, a qualitative study looks into the lived experiences of population decline for families with children and the ways in which these experiences have an impact on their individual social capital and the communal social cohesion of their village. Thirdly, a Geographical Information System (GIS) is used to see if the closure of primary schools affects the moving behaviour of families with children. Fourthly and finally, a classification of rural villages based predominantly on typical demographic aspects of population decline, like dejuvenation and ageing. By undertaking these steps we hope to contribute to increase the knowledge on population decline in rural areas, in order to be able to create a robust countryside with sustainable high levels of liveability and individual well-being.

Publications

Elshof, H. (2017),
Local population decline in rural North-Netherlands, Doctoral dissertation. University of Groningen. 205 p. [URL]
Elshof, H., Haartsen, T., Wissen, L.J.G. van & Mulder, C.H. (2017),
The influence of village attractiveness on flows of movers in a declining rural region. Journal of Rural Studies 56: 39-52. [URL]
Elshof, H. (2014),
Sterke daling leerlingen basisscholen in landelijk gebied. NIDI-Webartikel 2014 (01). [URL]
Elshof, H., Wissen, L.J.G. van & Mulder, C.H. (2014),
The self-reinforcing effects of population decline: An analysis of differences in moving behaviour between rural neighbourhoods with declining and stable populations. Journal of Rural Studies 36: 285-299. [URL]
Elshof, H. (2013),
Groningse plattelandsdorpen in krimpende regio's anno 2013. Een beschrijving van inspirerende gemeenschapsinitiatieven. Groningen/Den Haag: RUG/NIDI , p.

Research team



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