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La désertification du territoire : 1954-1990

Listed author(s):
  • Louis Chauvel
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    [eng] The depopulation of French rural areas : 1954-1990 Louis Chauvel The « desertification » (population-drain) issue is one of the main stakes of French regional development policies ; it also brings to the debate a dramatic element. If however we consider the « desertification » to mean a further population decrease in low density areas, this argument is not ungrounded ; indeed, about ten French low density « departments » have been undergoing a steady population decrease since 1918. The Creuse department stands out as an illustration of this phenomenon. This decline is generally linked to the conjunction of several features such as isolation from urban centers, a relatively high share of farmers in the labour force, high death and low birth rates, as well as a large emigration flux. The purpose of this paper is to present evidence for a long term link between employment and population. A model is built in order to describe the interaction between employment, migration and natural population increase over 1962-1990. This shows how declining departments are bound within a vicious mechanism : while the decline of local employment leads to population outflow, the population decline contributes to a further employment fall. We estimate the number of jobs to be created in such areas if the loop is to be broken in order to bring the population to a stop ; assuming this is really seen as a priority among development policies, the size of necessary effort is likely to be modest. [fre] La thématique de la « désertification » représente un des enjeux majeurs de l'aménagement du territoire, même si elle est utilisée de façon indue, souvent, comme argument propre à dramatiser le débat. Si toutefois la « désertification » est définie comme dépopulation des espaces peu denses, cet argument n'est pas, pour autant, dénué de réalité : une dizaine de départements faiblement peuplés — la Creuse en est l'exemple le plus flagrant — est en effet en état de déclin rapide de population depuis 1918. Cette dépopulation est liée, le plus souvent, à la conjonction de caractéristiques telles que la ruralité profonde, un système productif où l'agriculture représente une proportion importante de l'emploi, un excédent naturel faible et une émigration élevée. L 'élément mis en évidence, ici, est le lien durable — sur plus de trente ans — entre emploi et population. Un modèle, illustrant l'interaction entre emploi, migration et accroissement naturel de 1962 à 1990, met en évidence le cercle vicieux dans lequel les espaces en déclin sont enfermés : un département en perte d'emploi perd sa population (qui émigré), et la perte de population se solde (à moyen terme) par une situation de l'emploi moins favorable encore. L'évaluation du nombre d'emplois à créer dans les départements en difficulté pour briser la boucle du cercle vicieux permet de penser que le maintien à flot des départements en difficulté exigerait — si réellement il est vu comme un objectif prioritaire de l'aménagement du territoire — des efforts bien modestes.

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    Article provided by Programme National Persée in its journal Revue de l'OFCE.

    Volume (Year): 51 (1994)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 89-121

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    Handle: RePEc:prs:rvofce:ofce_0751-6614_1994_num_51_1_1380
    Note: DOI:10.3406/ofce.1994.1380
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