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Changes in Rural Areas - MEDCs

The study of human geography is an important aspect of your GCSE studies. The migration of populations from rural communities to urban centres and vice-versa has an impact on the economy of a country. Some of these impacts are positive whilst others are negative. You will be expected to know some examples of both sides. In general, MEDCs are better placed to manage these changes in a sustainable way.

Looking first at migration from urban areas to rural areas. This happens very little in LEDCs, however, in MEDCs, there are several push and pull factors. Firstly, there are those people who are still working. There are many factors that influence their decision - for example, more peaceful surroundings when they are not at work, cheaper housing with larger gardens, wanting to bring up their family in a rural environment.

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In MEDCs, when people retire, they sometimes move home. They have no need to live near work and may want to live in a more peaceful location than an urban centre or maybe they want to move to a smaller home. There are also people who are wealthy enough to buy second homes that they use at weekends and for holidays. The downsides to this type of migration is that it pushes up the prices of homes to the point where local people, particularly young adults, cannot afford to live there.

Other changes in rural areas that affect MEDCs in particular are job losses. Since the Second World War, agriculture has become much more mechanised. This means that fewer people are required to run farms and small farms cannot compete on price with larger ones. The larger farms buy the smaller ones and that means even fewer agricultural jobs.

But even these larger farms face their own problems. MEDCs like the UK tend to buy a lot of imported food at very competitive prices, this means that the food UK farmers produce is less in demand. One solution for farmers is to diversify, some change parts of their land to other uses e.g. paintball centres, golf courses and others, in tourist areas, offer tourist accommodation.

In some rural areas, the exploitation of natural resources has provided jobs through mining and quarrying and as the resources are becoming exhausted, the mines are closing with even more job losses.

In remote rural areas, there is a tendency towards depopulation. It is generally the younger generation that are leaving because of a lack of jobs and lack of social life (push factors). Local businesses then become less profitable as there are fewer customers and public transport is reduced as it costs too much to run for the number of people who use it. Elderly people in these areas can become cut off from facilities they need as local businesses close and services are cut. On the other hand, counter urbanisation is occurring in the accessible rural areas as people leave the cities to live in the countryside.

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  1. Which of the following could be a push reason for rural to urban migration?
    People buying second homes in a rural area cause house prices to rise. Locals can no longer afford local housing and migrate to those urban centres where housing is more affordable. Better jobs in an urban area is a pull reason, the question asks you to identify the push reason
  2. Which of the following are most likely to be involved in counter urbanisation?
    Young adults are more likely to migrate from rural areas to urban areas, as are the unemployed - these are two key reasons for rural depopulation
  3. Which of the following is not a factor that is likely to lead to rural depopulation?
    Investing in local rural communities is more likely to lead to an increase in population
  4. In some accessible rural areas, the population is increasing. This is called ...
    Accessible rural areas have a population that is increasing as people move out of urban areas to find what they see as a better quality of life
  5. Depopulation in remote rural communities leads to businesses closing down. People then notice a lowering of the quality of life and so even more depopulation occurs. This process is called ...
    It is very difficult to reverse this cycle of decline, it requires an effort from the community and an investment of money to attract people back to the area
  6. Which of the following is a reason why housing stock in a national park is usually more expensive than in surrounding areas?
    Fewer housing developments mean that more people are trying to buy the same house so the person prepared to pay the most is usually the one who succeeds in buying it
  7. Which of the following is not a push factor that leads to depopulation in remote rural areas of the UK?
    Push factors are disadvantages of staying where they are
  8. Counter urbanisation is good for a rural community in many ways but which of these is a disadvantage to local residents?
    An increase in traffic leads to more congestion
  9. Why are large retail centres often built on greenfield sites in the rural/urban fringe?
    Using brownfield or greyfield sites costs more because there is more that needs to be done to prepare the site for building e.g. clearing rubbish and old buildings, pulling up tarmac or concrete
  10. In what way or ways is counter urbanisation bad for the environment?
    Farmers sell off land for house building so there is less land available for growing food crops or grazing farm animals. People who have moved out to the country need to drive to work, unless there is a good public transport link. More car journeys mean more fuel is burned and more air pollution is created

Author: Kev Woodward

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