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Changes in rural areas - MEDCs


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The nature of rural areas in MEDCs [MEDC: A More Economically Developed Country (MEDC) has high levels of development based on economic indicators such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ] are changing. This section outlines the key challenges including rural depopulation and sustainable [sustainable: Doing something in a way that minimises damage to the environment and avoids using up natural resources, eg by using renewable resources. ] change.

Social and economic changes in rural areas in MEDCs

Job losses

Several factors have led to a decline in employment in rural areas.

The mechanisation of agriculture means less people are needed to work on the land. Raw materials which may have been mined are becoming exhausted, so mines are closing.

Imported food and raw materials also decreases the demand from the countryside.

House price increases

Restrictions on new developments in National Parks means housing stock is restricted. Attractive areas found in National Parks create demand from second home owners pushing local people out of the price bracket.

New homes

The UK has a shortage of suitable homes. Greenfield sites [greenfield: Undeveloped land that has not been built on previously. ] are cheaper to build on than brownfield sites [brownfield: A brownfield site is an unused or derelict area of urban land that has been built on previously. ]. Related problems, such as traffic congestion and increased car journeys are created.

Competition from abroad

There is now more competition from abroad - for example lamb can be imported [import: A good or service which enters a country. ] at a competitive price from New Zealand. As agricultural income falls, farms diversify - into providing tourist accommodation, for instance. This is successful in some areas which attract tourists, but is limited in many areas. Tourism is also very seasonal in the UK.

Rural depopulation

The less accessible (remote) rural areas have a decreasing population. In these less accessible rural areas many of the younger population move out. Push factors [push factors: Factors that encourage people to leave the place in which they live and to move elsewhere. ] for the young people are the shortage of jobs and a lack of social life.

However the rural areas which are accessible to urban areas have an increasing rural population - one reason is because of counter urbanisation [counter-urbanisation: The movement of people from larges towns and cities to smaller towns or villages. ].

Decline in services

The depopulation in remote areas means the local services decline. Independent stores and post offices become less profitable because of rural depopulation. Bus services may decline leaving the elderly cut off.

The changes in the less accessible (remote) rural areas leads to a cycle of decline.

Diagram showing the MEDC cycle of decline

Diagram showing the MEDC cycle of decline


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