Monitoring of rural areas in Germany: living conditions according to the official statistics and as perceived by the population
Depending on the typology applied, rural areas in Germany are home to about 30 to 50 percent of the population. They are characterized by villages and small towns, a great share of agricultural land use and forestry, as well as a relatively low population, settlement and building density.
The official statistics already offer a wide range of data and indicators to analyse and depict living conditions in rural areas. Yet, rurality is characterized by highly diverse social, economic and structural conditions which so far can only hardly be portrayed. Neither an urban-rural dichotomy nor a rural-urban continuum are scientifically satisfactory concepts. Equally important is the fact that our knowledge on how the inhabitants of rural areas perceive and assess their quality of life and service provision – and whether distinct assessments coincide with different types of rural areas – is fairly limited. The monitoring project both provides a differentiated picture of rural areas in Germany and involves the perceptions of the population.
The monitoring consists of four components:
1. a typology of rural areas to give consideration to the diversity of rurality in Germany,
2. a continuously expanded set of indicators that allows for the analysis and illustration of social, demographic and economic developments of rural areas as well as their land use,
3. a web-mapping application (Landatlas) to display the different indicators by means of interactive maps and
4. standardized questionnaire surveys among the rural population on how rural quality of life and the provision of public and private services are assessed by applying the Capability Approach.
The monitoring builds, on the one hand, upon existing structural data that will be presented in interactive maps. To this end, we use small-scale data from official federal and state statistics (particularly the INKAR system of the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development BBSR) and create new indices in order to display the social, demographic, economic and land-use situation of rural areas in Germany as well as its changes over time.
On the other hand, we create new data concerning the perceptions of rural living conditions by the population. To this end, in 2016 we conducted two standardised questionnaire surveys in rural areas in Germany. The first survey (general survey) focused on the quality of life and service provision as perceived by all population groups aged 18 years and older. It particularly considers issues of how to ensure a work-family balance. The second survey (in-depth survey) with the same thematic focus only addressed families with children younger than 13 years. This study is conducted in co-operation with the German Youth (DJI).
Permanent task 7.2015
Funding program: Bundesprogramm Ländliche Entwicklung
Project status: ongoing