Breaking the vicious cycle in peripheral rural regions: the case of "Waldviertler Wohlviertel" in Austria

Bernhard Kurka, Gunther Maier, Sabine Sedlacek

Publication: Working/Discussion PaperWU Working Paper


Loss of population is a well-known phenomenon in peripheral rural regions. The most identified problems are based on structural weaknesses in terms of decreasing business activities and a lack of public infrastructure. In such regions population is mainly older causing major changes in social infrastructure. For instance many schools and kindergartens close down for lack of demand, which hinders young families to migrate to such regions. The result is typically a negative cumulative process of loss of population, loss of jobs, loss of infrastructure, further out migration. It is an enormous challenge for such regions to overcome this vicious circle. A more detailed look often shows a more differentiated picture and offers opportunities for policy action. First, although people are moving out of these locations new in-migrants are interested in such peripheral regions and their strengths, such as silence, a beautiful natural landscape without urban character etc. Second, new technologies enable skilled personnel to work without urban infrastructure and face-to-face networks. Third, there is an enormous potential in people who moved but do have permanent contact with their home region in terms of regaining them after retiring. The region under study "Waldviertler Wohlviertel Thaya-Taffa-Wild" consists of nine communities in the Austrian province of "Lower Austria". Since 2002 the region aims to develop a joint strategy for improving the regional conditions. The most pressing problem is the loss of population in the region which is accompanied by a loss of business activity and public infrastructure. Based on a detailed analysis of the situation, the study aims at identifying opportunities and strategies for counter action. The paper will present our empirical results focussing on regional identity coming out of a qualitative data analysis and a postal survey.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVienna
PublisherInstitut für Regional- und Umweltwirtschaft, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameSRE - Discussion Papers

WU Working Paper Series

  • SRE - Discussion Papers

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