Neil Ward

Presentation Title
developing resilience in Europe's rural economies


Neil joined the University of East Anglia in July 2008 and is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He began his academic career as a geographer at University College London, has held chairs at Newcastle and Leeds Universities, and was Director of Newcastle University's Centre for Rural Economy from 2004 to 2008. He has also worked for periods on secondment to the Cabinet Office and as an advisor to the Economic and Social Research Council. He is a specialist in rural and regional development, including land and environmental management.

Notes from Presentation:

  • Rural outmigration is not always bad – people need to leave to obtain training/education but challenge is to then encourage them back.
  • Rural economies in Europe are very diverse.
  • When countries join EU, employment in agriculture goes down.
  • In UK, general recent trend is for people to leave cities, but this pattern is uneven.

Characteristics of rural economies in Europe:

  1. Small companies
  2. More self-employment
  3. More female entrepreneurship
  4. Lower wages
  5. Sectorally similar to urban economies

Common problems

  1. Sparsity
  2. Distance
  3. Marginalisation in economic planning
  • OECD report highlighted potential of rural development – rural is not synonymous with decline as many are fast-growing regions.
  • Also identified rural opportunities like local economic dynamism, national/international ICT interconnectedness, regional tourism.
  • Rural microbusiness reaction to 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak was mixed, demonstrating both vulnerability and resilience.
  • Two models of rural development – Exogenous development comes from outside (investment in rural areas), Endogenous comes from within (think local)
  • Neo-endogenous encompasses both and examines relationship between the two
  • Key is to be outward looking whilst keeping feet on ground. Need to be receptive to newcomers. Thinking wholly locally is a problem.
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Interreg IVb Vital Rural Area European Regional Development Fund Image Map