A multi-scale approach to rural depopulation in Mexico

Liliana Castillo-Rivero*, Philip McCann, Frans J. Sijtsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper aims to sketch rural population decline in Mexico. A comprehensive multi-scale documentation of Mexico's urban and rural fabric and its depopulation dynamics is undertaken. This paper does not identify the causes and effects of rural depopulation, but aims to detect its geographical presence in a manner which other approaches are unable to do. The granularity of rural depopulation is identified as manifested at four different scales: national, state, municipal, and local village scale. We use census data for the period 2000–2010. We relate rural depopulation to spatio-geographical features found in the literature; the relationship of depopulating territories with urban ones and the altitude range in which they are located. We find that proximity to and remoteness from urban areas as well as that of altitude do not follow the typical patterns often observed elsewhere. Unlike that shown in other countries, in Mexico, rural depopulation is manifested mostly in lower-lying areas and despite the fact that most of the country is at altitude. Rural depopulation and disappearance occur mainly in the areas of plains below 1,000 metres above sea level, regardless of the population density of the territories where they were located. Also, our multi-scaling approach has allowed us to identify not just at what scale the phenomenon of rural depopulation is observed, but also, to identify the areas in which the phenomenon is manifested regionally or locally. As we see, much of the phenomenon is concentrated in different areas to what national narratives suggest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1328-1347
Number of pages20
JournalRegional Science Policy and Practice
Issue number4
Early online date4-Dec-2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2021


  • altitude
  • Mexico
  • multi-scale
  • rural depopulation
  • urban system

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