The Role of Responses to Experiences of Rural Population Decline in the Social Capital of Families

Elshof, H. & Bailey, A., 2015, In : The Journal of Rural and Community Development. 10, 1, p. 72-93 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • Hans Elshof
  • Ajay Bailey
Population decline in rural areas has an impact on rural villages. This research investigates to what extent families with children in rural villages experience consequences of population decline, in which ways they respond to these experiences, and how that plays a role in their individual social capital and the communal social capital of their village of residence. To answer these questions, 23 in-depth interviews with families with children were conducted in seven villages in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands. The results show that experienced consequences of population decline largely pertain to tangible aspects of the living environment, such as the decline of services. When meeting places are lost, individual and communal social capital may certainly be harmed. Nevertheless, experienced consequences of population decline can also trigger protective or entrepreneurial communal responses that are beneficial to social capital. For this latter type of response the presence of people who take the lead are more important than any other outside influence. A considerable concern of these community leaders is the decrease in investments of local governments and other institutions, because that is believed to put increasing pressure on already existent self-reliance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-93
Number of pages22
JournalThe Journal of Rural and Community Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 19826938