Leaving Rurality Behind. Re-orientation of spatial policies in Sweden
The paper will address the changing status of rural regions in policy formation in Sweden. Two basic processes are at work. First, decades of out-migration have given many rural regions a demographic structure, which is causing a self-propelling de-population. Secondly, the internationalisation of the economy and of politics has drawn the attention from the idea of nationwide welfare towards efforts to increase economic growth on a national basis. Regional policy is gradually shifting focus towards concepts and measures that are aiming at supporting dynamic growth regions. The new economic geography forms the basis for an "urbanised" regional policy: economies of scale, regional specialisation and the enlargement of labour market regions are key concepts in the spatial policies. Hence, the problems of marginalisation and decline in the periphery as well as the specific opportunities of vital rural areas are vanishing in politics and planning as the "rural development system" and the "rural dimension" is being phased-out from the conception of space.
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