Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Institute for Futures Studies

No 2006:6: Understanding rural change - demography as a key to the future

Jan Amcoff () and Erik Westholm ()
Additional contact information
Jan Amcoff: Institute for Futures Studies, Postal: Box 591, SE-101 31 Stockholm, Sweden
Erik Westholm: Institute for Futures Studies, Postal: Box 591, SE-101 31 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The last decades have seen a rapidly growing interest in foresight methodology. Methods have been developed in corporate and governmental communication exercises often labelled technology foresight. In reality, these foresights have often drifted into processes of social change, since technological change is hard to foresee beyond what is already in the pipe-line. Forecasting of social change, however, must be based on solid knowledge about the mechanisms of continuity and change. Virtually nothing can be said about the future without relating to the past; foresights and futures studies are about revealing the hidden pulse of history. Hence, the answer to forecasting the future is empirical research within the social sciences. Demographic change has been recognised as a key determinant for explaining social change. Population changes are fairly predictable and the age transition can explain a wide range of socio-economic changes. For rural futures, demographic change is a key issue, since age structure in rural areas is often uneven and also unstable due to migration patterns. A number of policy related questions as well as research challenges are raised as a consequence.

Keywords: demographic change; rural futures

JEL-codes: R11; R23

19 pages, April 2006

Price: 25 SEK

Note: ISSN 1652-120X; ISBN 13: 978-91-89655-89-8; ISBN 10: 91-89655-89-3

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