42nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "From Industry to Advanced Services - Perspectives of European Metropolitan Regions", August 27th - 31st, 2002, Dortmund, Germany
The aim of this paper is to investigate the continuity and the driving forces of the urban-rural employment shift in Western Europe. Based on a comparable area typology for the three case study states Britain, Germany and Italy, the study finds out that since the 1970s rural areas have overall been performing much better than urban areas. In contrast, for the 1990s the thesis of an urban-rural shift of jobs and population cannot be verified without qualifications. Even though there are rural regions that are outperforming the conurbations in terms of employment and population growth, the overriding trend has been a polarisation within the rural areas as well as within the conurbations. Concerning the determinants of rural growth, the study identifies two possible explanations: First, the above-average development of the manufacturing industries in rural areas, and second, the existence of specific "rural location factors" such as land availability, a loyal labour force and a high quality of life.