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Ralf Mai and Claus Schlömer (2007)

Another Rural Exodus? Migration from Rural Areas into the Agglomerations*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 32, 3-4/2007, p. 713-742, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

Migration between rural and urban areas is the subject of intensive discussion more once more with regard to the present day, and not only as regards periods of industrialisation, in light of what might be a process of "re-urbanisation". This article studies the degree to which there has been an increasing trend towards migration from rural areas to the agglomerations in Germany in recent years.

The empirical results are contradictory: If one considers the large-scale region types, the agglomerations in the East and West are experiencing immigration from rural areas of Eastern Germany. Having said that, there is virtually no upward emigration trend from rural areas to be seen, either as a total or with regard to the younger age groups. If one consults types of district, by contrast, nuances do emerge. Whilst emigration from Eastern German areas is clearly dominated by migration from East to West, and has fallen once more in recent years, development in Western Germany is taking place in two stages. The nineteen-nineties were characterised by deconcentration, in which the cities lost inhabitants to rural areas. Since roughly the turn of the millennium, however, the core cities have been gaining once more over rural areas outside the agglomerations. This effect can certainly be interpreted as an indication of a type of re-urbanisation. Comparison with the other migration flows however shows that at best this is a sub-aspect which relates only to a short period and to specific age groups, so that it should be taken with a pinch of salt. What is more, geographical relationships between cities and rural areas play a major role. It remains to be seen to what degree the emigration from rural areas into the core cities also emerging in Western Germany is becoming a trend.

It does appear to be becoming increasingly difficult to formally distinguish between large- and small-scale migration. The flowing transitions between the areas around the cities and rural areas which are further from cities lead to a situation in which it is virtually impossible to make across-the-board statements as to whether there is an "urban or rural exodus".

* Original title: Erneute Landflucht? Wanderungen aus dem ländlichen Raum in die Agglomerationen (full text in German only)

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