Seminar: An End to Rural Population Decline? (online) - Programma
Seminar: An end to rural population decline?
Side meeting of the European Population Conference EPC, Wednesday June 29th 2022
Venue: Munting Building M.0061, University of Groningen, room M.0061

Final Program
Room open for onsite visitors
13.30 Welcome Leo van Wissen (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute NIDI, and University of Groningen UoG), and Elly van der Klauw (project leader, Knowledge Centre for Population Decline, Northern Netherlands KKNN)
13.35 Regional population change in Europe:
a bird’s eye view
Leo van Wissen (NIDI and UoG), and Nils Klopper (Province North Holland)
Can we discern changing trends and patterns in regional population development in Europe? As an introduction to the more detailed country-specific accounts later this afternoon we try to sketch an overall picture of recent cross-European regional developments, using Eurostat data at the NUTS 3 level. 
13.55 “Covid Escapism” – Rural Revival in the German Countryside? Frank Swiaczny (senior researcher, Federal Institute for Population Research, Wiesbaden)
In recent years, an affordability crisis has slowed down urban growth as a dominant trend in regional population dynamics in Germany. In 2020 some large cities have recorded shrinking populations, for the first time in many years, due to Covid related decline in international and internal migration. Rising real estate prices and lack of available housing affected urban areas across the country and spread to suburban areas, too. Spill over pushed migration into more rural areas where housing is still affordable. Spatial planning has, for a long time, aimed to revitalize those peripheral areas subject to population decline and ageing. Covid related changes in migration patterns are now expected to reinforce this trend – is there already evidence that working from home has changed the appeal of the countryside?
14.15 Counterurbanization and Coronavirus Tony Champion , emeritus Professor of Population Geography, CURDS/GPS, Newcastle University
An overview of the consequence of the covid pandemic on internal mobility, based to a large extent on a review of the current literature. The data situation in the UK for measuring internal mobility is far from ideal, and based on annual health records of residents. Moreover, due to harmonization of the midyear population estimates of the period 2011-2020 with the 2021 census, the 2020-21 estimates will be released later. As a result, in the UK the discussion is dominated by anecdotal evidence from media reports, suggesting a significant counterurbanization flow as a result of the pandemic. This presentation will scrutinize these reports in view of what is known in the literature so far.
14.35 Movers away from the city of Oslo as a result of Covid-19 Marianne Tønnessen, senior researcher, Oslo Metropolitan University / Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research
Cities across the world have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and out-migration from many cities was particularly high in 2020. Some movers went abroad; others moved to other parts of the same country. Using Oslo, Norway, as a case, this study examines the characteristics of those who moved away from the city in 2020, such as occupation, age and whether they were born there. Based on these findings, I discuss the likelihood of the leavers returning when the pandemic is over. The results show that those moving away from Oslo in 2020 were somewhat older compared to those who moved away between 2016 and 2019. To a greater extent than in the preceding years, movers in 2020 had jobs where teleworking could be possible and were not born in Oslo. This may indicate that a substantial share of those who moved away from Oslo in 2020 will not move back to the city after the pandemic if teleworking is still possible. For those who emigrated to another country, no teleworking effect was found.
14.55 Factors affecting post-covid residential relocation choices in the Netherlands Carola de Groot, senior researcher, RABO Bank, The Netherlands
In the Netherlands, it’s widely believed that the pandemic with its various lockdowns has increased the popularity of bigger houses with a garden. And because those kind of houses are on average cheaper and more widely available in more peripheral, rural regions than in urban areas, an increasing amount of urbanites is considered to move to peripheral, rural areas. Did residential preferences and actual residential behaviour indeed change due to COVID-19? And is there truly a rise in the amount of so-called cityquiters since the start of the pandemic? During this presentation, these questions will be answered, using the results of a national, cross-sectional, housing survey (WoON) and microdata of housing transactions of the Land Registry.
15.15 Break
15.30 Rural population dynamics in France: heterogeneity, renewal, and inequalities Sylvie Dubuc (professr, University Strassbourg, and University of Reading)
In this presentation first an overview of population trends and the diversity of rural population dynamics in France in the pre-COVID period is presented.The second part of the presentation draws on the most recent, preliminary (limited) quantitative and qualitative data and research findings currently available in an attempt to capture the effect of the pandemic on the ongoing residential mobility and rural dynamics.
15.50 Where did the Spaniards move to after the COVID-19 outbreak?
Antonio Lopéz-Gay (researcher, Department of Gography, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) and Center for Demographic Studies (CED- Cerca)
The COVID-19 pandemic was expected to have a disruptive impact on mobility since its outbreak. Determinants of residential mobility and internal migration could have changed significantly during the first months of the pandemic, as a consequence of mobility restrictions, the desire to improve housing conditions, the expansion of teleworking, or the strong impact of the pandemic on urban areas. In this contribution we analyze inter-municipal movements in Spain for the year 2020 in comparison to the pre-pandemic pattern. The results reveal significant changes during the first year of the pandemic, with a decrease in movements into the cities and a rise in movements from urban areas to low-density municipalities, often located in rural areas. Although the 2020 dynamic did not represent a rupture in the residential mobility model of the Spanish urban areas, it had a greater impact on rural areas, but we do not yet know whether it continued during 2021. We also examine data obtained from the city councils of Barcelona and Madrid, which provide greater geographic detail on residential changes. We identify that neighborhoods with higher incomes and better housing conditions were the areas that experienced the greatest increase in movements leaving the central city, suggesting that high-income groups led this type of mobility and not the population living in worst housing conditions.
16.10 Will the COVID-19 pandemic have little effect on internal migration patterns in Italy? Corrado Bonifazi, Frank Heins (Director resp. senior researcher,  Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies (IRPPS, Rome)
Italy is one of the countries first and hardest affected by the  COVID-19 pandemic. The national lockdown that was started on March 10, 2020 led to a decline in internal mobility and international migration. The significant reduction in the volume of any type of changes of residence occurred in a period in which Italy has just emerged from the economic crisis that began in 2008 and the Italian economy still was struggling to become more modern, service oriented and digital. For years the Italian population has shown low levels of mobility and the foreign population has contributed disproportionally to internal migration flows. Population register data available for the years 2020 and 2021 do not allow to determine a clear trend of internal migration flows and it seems impossible to state that some types of areas (e.g. rural ones) are the winners of the pandemic. The first indications suggest more a temporary decline in traditional migratory flows such as those from South to North or those towards metropolitan or urban areas and not so much a change in territorial preferences that would ignore the economic fundamentals.
16.30 Some conclusions and discussion Leo van Wissen (NIDI and UoG), all presenters and participants
In this final contribution we try to bring the various results together. What similarities can be observed across countries, if at all? Can we draw some first conclusions regarding the influence of Covid-19 on regional population trends? What similar short-term effects could be observed? Are there signs of long term, structural changes due to Covid-19? What other factors (economic crisis, housing market) are at play?  
17.00 Closure

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