Topic: Could rural development programmes keep people in place?
Keywords: Rural-urban migration; Rural development; Policy impact assessment; Path model
The central policy aim of the current rural development strategy of Hungary is to avoid mass migration from rural settlements and to try to contribute to immigration in villages through the development of various aspects of the socio-economic environment. However, several previous sociological and economic theories argue, that under certain circumstances and by the application of certain development tools, opposite outcomes can be expected. The case of Hungary and the 2007-2013 EU budget period provide a unique case for testing these hypotheses by applying quantitative tools. Among the countries of the European Union, the contribution of EU funds in development programmes was the highest in Hungary; the ratio of people living in rural and intermediate regions is one of the highest; and the relative social disadvantages of rural dwellers compared to the urban population is similarly one of the highest among EU countries.
Based on longitudinal and proportionate social, labour market and economic, high measurement-level data on various samples of Hungarian rural settlements (agglomeration vs. non-agglomeration, disadvantageous vs. non-disadvantageous villages), linear regression based path analyses were employed to assess the direct and indirect effects of 2007-2013 rural development subsidies utilized in Hungary. As annual in- and outward migration movements are registered systematically in Hungary on the settlement level, by the application these background variables as explanators, valid models of migration could be developed in the research.
Though several authors argue that development results are challenging to be identified, through some economic, labour market variables, direct and indirect effects of subsidies on migration patterns could be found. However, among agglomeration villages, these effects seem to be less relevant, and regarding particularly settlements in the least developed microregions, contradictory effects are to be found, too. Results thus seem to reinforce previous theories arguing that development may affect regions with different original status differently. Furthermore, results also suggest, that the effect of changes in certain elements of the socio-economic surroundings (such as development of agriculture production, infrastructure, non-agrarian enterprises, rural-urban connections) provide different results in migration patterns. By the investigation of the this topic, the research aims to contribute to the scarce literature of rural development impact assessment, especially regarding rural-urban connections.