Do measures to counter rural exodus make sense?

Migration to the cities and deserted rural areas can be observed in many countries of Europe. According to a recent survey, 79 percent of Finns believe the state should invest more in rural regions to counter rural exodus. But commentators doubt that trying to repopulate rural areas is a sensible strategy.

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Kauppalehti (FI) /

Urbanisation fosters prosperity

Urbanisation is a global and positive trend that is difficult to reverse, writes Kauppalehti:

“Urbanisation also means prosperity: the growth of cities correlates with the transformation of production structure and an increase in the gross domestic product. ... The cities are the backbone of the economy. If that backbone is strong enough it can support rural areas too. ... How many people would really be willing to assume responsibility and move to rural areas to bring new life to them? Not even among those who were born in the high-birth-rate 1960s and 70s and who moved to the cities in droves and are now retiring are there many returnees.”

Aamulehti (FI) /

Cities are better for the climate

Facts play only a subordinate role in the discussion about rural exodus and regional development, Aamulehti complains:

“All Finland should be populated. This sentence is one of the oddest mantras in the discussion. ... Anyone who questions it must brace themselves for a barrage of protest. And the bulk of the debate is based on emotions rather than hard facts. ... In the debate about regional development, environmental aspects are also frequently forgotten. The carbon footprint of sparsely populated areas is large. Denser population reduces emissions and helps counter climate change. Sparsely populated rural areas have a clean image, while cities are seen as dirty. Social decisions, however, should be made on the basis of verifiable facts.”