Causes and consequences of regional population decline for primary schools

Tialda Haartsen*, Leo Van Wissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


During the past few years, the Dutch education system has been confronted with a sharp decline in the number of pupils. Especially in rural villages, inhabitants fear for the closure of their local primary school, which is perceived as a very negative development for local village life. This paper shows that the relatively sharp decline of the number of pupils in the next decade can be explained by a wavelike pattern in the past and projected number of pupils, resulting from the baby bust of the 1960s and 1970s. The relative decrease in pupils will almost be as strong in future depopulating (Anticipeer) regions as in present day declining (Topkrimp) regions. However, municipalities in the Topkrimp regions have many smaller primary schools which implies that they will have to deal with school mergers and closures in the near future. The paper concludes that long term effects of school closures on local society are not as devastating as often perceived.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-496
Number of pages10
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2012


  • Depopulation
  • village school
  • wavelike birth patterns
  • projected pupil developments
  • school closure
  • local society

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