Typology of rural areas in the Central and Eastern European EU new member States
Rural areas in Central and Eastern Europe are very often associated with a backwardness in terms of income and employment opportunities, a high dependency on agriculture, the outmigration of young, skilled people, a low population density and an insufficient infrastructure. In this paper 3 typologies are presented, which show that rural areas cannot be considered homogeneous and not all of them need the same developmental measures. The first typology classified all NUTS-3 regions in the ten Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC-10) by means of cluster analysis according to 7 demographic and socio-economic criteria. The result revealed 5 different types of regions as most adequate: three are largely rural, one includes both rural, and especially industrialised urban areas, and one covers only large cities. Narrowing the geographical focus to a single country in general improves data availability and allows to include more variables. In our case, Bulgaria, 16 variables on the NUTS-3 level could be condensed by factor analysis to 3 factors, which can be considered as structuring forces in rural Bulgaria: agglomeration, marginality and employment. Based on these factors, 6 groups of rural regions could be identified. The third analysis widened the geographical focus and included beside the NUTS-2 regions of the CEEC-10 also whose of the EU-15 (without UK). The first results of this cluster analysis with 12 variables revealed large developmental differences between these 2 country groups. The 3 typologies presented for different geographical areas provide no code of practice for regional policy measures, but important first clues for the elaboration of adapted rural development measures in CEE.
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