France and its Territories 2021 Edition

This work offers an overview of economic, social and environmental issues at a regional level. Using zoning for studies that were updated in 2020, the work takes stock of geographical disparities in France, the strengths and weaknesses of the different regions and the population's living conditions.

Insee Références
Paru le :Paru le22/07/2021
Cristina D’Alessandro (Cnis), David Levy (Insee), Théodore Regnier (ENS)
La France et ses territoires- July 2021

A new definition of rural to give a better account of the differing reality and transformation in the regions

Cristina D’Alessandro (Cnis), David Levy (Insee), Théodore Regnier (ENS)

Rural areas are defined firstly by their low population density. The reality within them is many-sided and varied, depending on their geography and history.

Up until 2020, INSEE’s definition of “rural” applied to all municipalities (communes) not belonging to an urban unit, which is characterised as somewhere with a population of more than 2,000 over a certain continuity of built-up area, deemed to typify “towns”. The definition proposed here marks a break with that town-centred approach. Rural areas now denote all municipalities with a low or very low population density according to a municipality density scale. In 2017, they accounted for 88% of municipalities in France and 33% of the total population.

This single characteristic of a rural area does not provide a grasp of all the dimensions, which requires the addition of functional criteria, notably the degree of influence of an employment hub. Four rural categories emerge when adopting this approach, ranging from rural municipalities with very low population density, outside the influence of an employment hub, to municipalities heavily influenced by a hub. This classification applies both to municipalities where the population level is stagnating and to those attracting a younger population, which are seeing a greater increase than urban municipalities. This approach allows a statistical definition of a continuum ranging from the most remote, least populated areas to the most urbanised rural areas. Conversely, rural areas have this factor in common: on average, income disparity is markedly lower there than in urban areas, owing to the lower presence of households below the poverty threshold in municipalities under the influence of an employment centre, and to the lower presence of affluent households in the most remote municipalities.

Insee Références

Paru le :22/07/2021