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Policies and young people in rural development

Contract nr: FAIR-CT98-4171
Project nr: 4171
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/04/1999
Duration: 22 months
Total cost: 669,000 EUR
EC Contribution: 669,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Muriel HUYBRECHTS
Research topic: Development of rural areas
Acronym: PAYPIRD

The OECD has highlighted the need to improve young people's ability to make a transition into the world of work. This research will therefore have important implications for the future of rural development policy. The emphasis is on comparative case studies of how policies impact on real-life conditions, and on linking personal narratives with macro processes of economic, social and institutional change. No such comparative studies have been conducted across rural areas of Europe, and our knowledge of how policies affect young people in rural Europe is small. Yet rapid changes affect their lives as a result of European integration, CAP reform, economic and social restructuring, changes in welfare systems, and globalisation, as noted in the Cork Declaration. Such a study is needed to assist the EU's formulation of effective and integrated rural development policies.

The purpose of this project is to analyse the effects of policies on young people (aged 16-25) across rural areas of Europe, focusing particularly on their integration into or exclusion from labour markets. Amongst its goals, rural development policy seeks to promote empowerment and cohesion and to combat exclusion, especially in relation to labour markets. These aims are reflected in the Cork Declaration. Social exclusion is a multi-dimensional, dynamic concept which refers to a breakdown or malfunctioning of the major societal systems that should guarantee the social integration of young people. These include the legal and democratic system, which promotes civic integration; the labour market, which promotes economic integration; the welfare state, promoting social integration; and the family and community, which promotes interpersonal integration. Recent work in Scotland (Shucksmith et al, 1996) provides evidence of the processes and system failures lying behind exclusion in rural areas. A key issue in this research is the articulation of social policies and economic development policies in a rural context.

The policies considered will be at various geographical levels, including EC (CAP, Social Chapter), national (labour market policies and welfare regimes), and regional and local (rural development programmes). As such it is a study of policies affecting rural development. It adopts an analytical approach to identifying the key mechanisms which affect this important and neglected group, who are the future of rural communities. Its focus is the effect of policies on how labour markets and welfare regimes interact with changes in the nature and duration of the youth transition. Because rural labour markets differ from those in urban areas, while welfare assistance may be less available or acceptable, and because `young people in rural areas are likely to lead a qualitatively different kind of youth from those in towns' (Jones, 1992), policies may impact quite differently on young people in rural areas. The methodology is based upon that tested successfully in a two-year study of rural disadvantage (Scotland). This relies upon a combination of complementary research instruments (contextual work, analysis of secondary data, in-depth qualitative interviewing, and group participative interviews) in case study areas in eight countries, selected to include a range of types of rural area (CEC 1988). The participants are highly experienced in research in rural areas and in the management of international collaborative projects. They will be assisted by a distinguished international advisory group. Close links with user-groups will also ensure effective dissemination and practical outcomes. Output will include an interim report in November 1999 to assist with early policy formulation; papers from an international review meeting in February 2000 containing preliminary results of analysis of survey results; national reports in June 2000; thematic reports in September 2000; and a final report in February 2001.

Current situation/results:
The project is on schedule. The interim report was submitted to the European Commission in November 1999, and contains contextual material on the seven case study areas and relevant policies. By February 2000, in-depth surveys of young people had been completed by each partner, and analysis is now in progress. Preliminary findings were discussed at a Coordination Meeting on 9-13 February 2000.

University of Aberdeen
Arkleton Centre for Rural Development Research
UK-AB24 3UF Aberdeen
Tel.: +44 1224 27 23 60
Fax: +44 1224 27 39 02
E-mail: /


  • Gerhard CHRISTE
    Institut für Arbeitsmarktforschung und jegendberufshilfe Oldenburg
    Haarenfeld 7
    D-26121 Oldenburg
    Tel.: +49 441 973 88 37
    Fax: +49 441 973 88 39

  • Elizabeth AUCLAIR
    Fors recherche Sociale (Association loi 1901)
    Rue Godefroy Cavaignac 28
    F-75011 Paris
    Tel.: +33 1 40 09 15 12
    Fax: +33 1 40 09 15 32

  • John CANAVAN
    University College Galway
    Department of Sociology
    National University of Ireland
    Tel.: +353 91 52 44 11
    Fax: +353 91 52 97 00

  • Jose Francisco Gandra PORTELA
    Universidade de Tras-os-montes e alto douro Public University
    Av. Almeida Lucena s/no
    P-5000 Villa real
    Tel.: +351 59 33 25 45
    Fax: +351 59 32 57 80

  • Thomas DAX
    Bundesstalt fuer Bergbauerfragen
    Moellwaldplatz 5
    A-1040 Wien
    Tel.: +43 1 504 886 90
    Fax: +43 1 504 886 939

  • Toivo MUILU
    University of Oulu
    Department of Geography
    FIN-90571 Oulu
    Tel.: +358 85 53 17 11
    Fax: +359 85 53 16 93
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