Rural facility decline: A longitudinal accessibility analysis questioning the focus of Dutch depopulation-policy

Suzan Christiaanse*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

    2 Citaten (Scopus)
    14 Downloads (Pure)


    In the debate about rural depopulation it is frequently assumed that population decline goes hand-in-hand with the decline of facilities and services. Hence, spatial policy for rural areas often focuses on the provision of key services of general interest in areas experiencing population decline. However, the actual changes in distribution and accessibility of several services are almost never evaluated longitudinally, and most recent studies focus on measuring access in terms of supply and demand using aggregated data. This paper offers an alternative method, from an equality standpoint, and investigates changes in access and distribution of local facilities for basic needs (food, education and health care) in Fryslân (Netherlands). By doing so, it questions the focus of Dutch spatial policy on depopulating areas. Changes in access to primary schools, general practitioners and supermarkets between 2000 and 2012 are visualised by overlapping network analyses in GIS. The results are discussed in the context of depopulation and the decline of local facilities from smaller towns and villages. This paper concludes that due to the initial high density of basic facilities the accessibility remained quite good. Moreover, major changes in access do not coincide with the areas targeted by the government to deal with effects of population decline. This suggests that spatial policy for facility-decline should focus on people with low mobility in small villages throughout Fryslân, rather than depopulating areas. This research shows the importance of questioning the assumptions behind spatial policy for service-provision, and offers a simple method to do so.

    Originele taal-2English
    Aantal pagina's13
    TijdschriftApplied Geography
    StatusPublished - aug-2020

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