What is Ruralism in the twenty-first century in France? It is about this question that he divides the geographers and asks the statisticians that the 2021 edition of Insee References France and its territoriesPublished Thursday April 29th, it dedicates an entire chapter to better reflect the reconfigurations that rural areas have gone through in recent decades.
“For a long time, rural areas were defined as all municipalities that did not belong to an urban unit of more than 2,000 inhabitants. A kind of” empty “approach, centered around the city, which seemed to be less effective in calculating multifaceted realities.Gerard Morrow confirms, Head of the Regional and Local Statistics Division.
The boundary between urban and rural areas is blurred
In fact, the boundaries between urban and rural areas have become largely blurred with the development, since the mid-1970s. ‘Peri-urbanization’ This led to the emergence of intermediate spaces that combine the advantages of the city, access to employment and services in particular, with the charm of the countryside for the living environment.
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That is why, and at the request of the public authorities, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies launched, in 2019, a large project to redefine rural space, bringing together academics, elected officials and sociologists. The result is a new map of rural France created on the basis of two criteria: population density and an urban employment center impact map.
The First Reading Network allows, in 2017, to count 30,775 municipalities with little or no population density – that is, 88% of municipalities – which nonetheless represent more than 32% of the population. The percentage that ranks France among the most rural countries in Europe with a similar population, right after Poland.
Four categories for rural municipalities
To measure the impact of the urban pole, INSEE then calculated the percentage of people who commute from the countryside to the city for work each day. More than 30% of rural areas are considered to be under strong influence, and less than 15% are “independent” rural areas.
“The combination of workers identifies four classes of municipalities with very different characteristics.”, Gerard Morrow confirms. The first brings together the municipalities that are closely related to the city. This is the home of 10% of the population of France, including a high percentage of rich families (9.4%) and a low percentage of the poor (8.5%).
Then comes a group of municipalities that are still in the urban area of attraction but under weaker influence, and in which 9% of the population is concentrated, especially the intermediate occupations. Then a third area, often associated with a smaller town, where 11% of the population lives, is a mixture of farmers, employees, workers, artisans and tradesmen.
Finally, the last category includes municipalities outside of any urban pole influence. Areas with low population density – 2% of the population – which are similarly represented by a low proportion of well-off households (5.7%) and a high proportion of the poor (17%), especially retirees with small pensions.
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All offer a stark contrast between A. ‘Rural peri-urban areas’ Which continue to expand that the pandemic crisis is expected to boost (with a population growth of 1% on average annually since 2007) and ‘Deep countryside’ Its demographic stagnation due to its isolation, as still only agricultural activity sustains so little life.