The growth of the working age population: differences between urban and rural regions across Europe

Joop De Beer, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Nicole Van der Gaag, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Corina Huisman, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Rob Van der Erf, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

Population ageing will lead to a reduction in the growth of the working age population across Europe. Even though population ageing is a general trend across Europe, there are regional differences. Whereas many urban regions are likely to continue to grow, many rural regions will experience a decline. The growth rate of the working age population depends on cohort turnover, i.e. the replacement of older generations by the inflow of young generations, and on the direction and size of migration flows. Since young migrants tend to move from rural to urban regions, urban regions tend to have both a younger and a more strongly growing working age population. This is reinforced by the inflow of immigrants from other countries. This paper aims to analyse differences in the effects of migration and cohort turnover on the growth of the working age population between rural and urban regions. The analysis will be based on demographic data for NUTS 2 regions. The distinction between rural and urban regions is usually based on the NUTS 3 level. However, there are much more demographic data available on the NUTS 2 level rather than the NUTS 3 level. For this purpose we develop an urban-rural classification at the NUTS 2 level. In many regions the future cohort turnover effect will be negative since young age generations are relatively small compared with older generations. Since the direction of migration flows depends on economic differences across regions and since generally urban regions are more competitive than rural regions we may expect that migration may compensate the negative effect of cohort turnover in urban regions and reinforce it in rural regions. Furthermore we may expect that the positive effect of migration in competitive urban regions will exceed that in underperforming urban regions.

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Presented in Session 21: Internal migration, regional and urban issues