Rural regions in the EU: exploring differences in economic development

Ida Joke Terluin

Onderzoeksoutput: Thesis fully internal (DIV)

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Search for driving forces behind economic development in rural regions of the EU From a recent OECD analysis, it appeared that there were dynamic rural regions which showed an employment performance above the national average during the 1980s, and that there were also rural regions whose employment growth lagged behind. This observation directly prompts the following question: why do some rural regions show a higher employment performance than others? Can the sectoral mix of employment explain these differences? Or are these differences mainly the result of factors like local resources, natural and cultural amenities, entrepreneurial tradition, work ethics, public or private networks? This study aims to provide answers to this question by giving a thorough analysis of how economic development theories conceptualize the driving forces behind economic development in rural regions. The insights achieved in this analysis can help policy makers in the design of strategies towards encouraging economic development in rural regions. In order to achieve this aim, the focus of this study will be on the following four objectives: a Analysis of regional economic growth theories, which can be used for the explanation of economic development in rural regions in the EU; b Analysis of development trajectories in selected rural regions in the EU, and examination of applied development strategies in those regions; c Pattern-matching in order to analyze whether development trajectories identified under (b) accord with one or more of the theories discussed under (a); d Design of a guideline for economic development strategies for rural regions in the EU. Rural regions are the basic research units in this study. These can be described in terms of a territorial unit with one or more small or medium sized cities surrounded by large areas of open space, with a regional economy and with a relatively low population density. Usually, the size of a rural region reflects that of a labour market area. By examining the debates in the multidisciplinary field of rural studies and in regional economics, we compose an overview of theories on economic development in rural regions. From this overview we will select a number of theories for further analysis. We use the method of ‘pattern-matching’ to test whether these theories predict the development trajectories in 18 case studies in rural regions in the EU. As case studies we used those which were carried out in the scope of the RUREMPLO project. Based on the findings of the pattern-matching and the experiences in the case study regions, we formulate recommendations for economic development strategies for rural regions in the EU. Finally, this study is restricted to economic developments since the beginning of the 1980s.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Huigen, P P P, Supervisor
  • van Dijk, Jouke, Supervisor
Datum van toekenning26-nov.-2001
Plaats van publicatie[S.l.]
StatusPublished - 2001

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