Institute of Rural Studies

Deputy Director


Anja Herkner

Bundesallee 64
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5501
Fax: +49 531 596 5599

Institute of Rural Economics

Deputy Director

  • NN

Changing Living Conditions in Rural Areas


Village pub with solar panel  (c) Thünen-Institut/Ulrike Hochgesand
Signs of change: Old village pub with new solar panels (© Thünen-Institut/Ulrike Hochgesand)

Changing Living Conditions in Rural Areas 1952, 1972, 1993, 2012

Starting in 1952, "Changing Living Conditions in Rural Areas" investigates the everyday life and changes thereof in fourteen German villages and their surroundings. Originally 10 west German villages, the study was enlarged to fourteen villages from east and west Germany after reunification in 1992. The 2012 study is a joint research project of seven cooperating institutes, headed by the Thünen Institute of Rural Studies.

Background and Objective

Originating in 1952 out of a growing concern about the "rural exodus" in post-war Germany, the study was eventually repeated every 20 years. This unique empirical project  has developed until today, comprising data from more than 60 years. Starting with the 14 villages of the original study, the research area has been successively enlarged with surrounding villages to give sustainability to the project. Today the research villages comprise  Bischoffingen and Kusterdingen in Baden-Wurttemberg, Bockholte, Elliehausen, Groß Schneen in Lower Saxony, Falkenberg und Gerhardshofen in Bavaria, Finneland in Saxonia-Anhalt, Freienseen in Hesse, Glasow und Krackow in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania , Ralbitz-Rosenthal in Saxonia, Spessart in Rheinland-Palatinate, Westrup in North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as Badingen, Burgwall, Marienthal, Mildenberg, Ribbeck und Zabelsdorf in Brandenburg. The 2012 research wave tackles recent questions concerning rural development in its variety and ties these results into the broader process of rural transformation within the last decades. Thus the study enables policymaking appropriate to varied local situations and can show how varied and complex the ongoing process of rural development in Germany is.


Each cooperating institute investigates one specific research area:  The situation of children in villages, daily life and housing conditions, women's employment, changing perceptions of landscape, new media use in rural areas, local policy making, and changing care infrastructure. Furthermore the Thünen Institute as head of the project compiles a comprehensive report about the changing living conditions across all fourteen villages studied.

Data and Methods

Analyses are based on qualitative (group discussions, expert-interviews, narrative interviews) and quantitative interviews (local inhabitants, N=3177).


The diverse results show locally specific processes of socio-economic transformation. The results are summarised in our dossier "The atypical one is typical: villages in germany".



7.2012 - 12.2015

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: finished

Publications to the project

Results 1 - 5 of 14

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  1. Tuitjer G, Steinführer A (2021) The scientific construction of the village. Framing and practicing rural research in a trend study in Germany, 1952–2015. J Rural Studies 82:489-499, DOI:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2019.12.006
  2. Steinführer A (2021) Und das Dorf stirbt doch nicht - es verändert sich : Vom Wandel ländlicher Lebensverhältnisse. Geogr Rundsch Braunschweig 73(5):22-27
  3. Tuitjer G (2019) "Aber dann, mit Familie, ist einfach das Dorfleben viel, viel besser". Lokale Geschlechterarrangements und räumliche Praktiken. Ländliche Räume Beitr Lokalen Regionalen Entwickl 5:91-104
  4. Becker H, Tuitjer G (2019) 60 Jahre "Ländliche Lebensverhältnisse im Wandel" - wie eine Langzeitstudie entsteht. Ländliche Räume Beitr Lokalen Regionalen Entwickl 5:79-89
  5. Tuitjer G (2018) A house of one's own - The Eigenheim within rural women's biographies. J Rural Studies 62:156-163, DOI:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.08.002

Results 1 - 5 of 14

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