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Root causes of rural decline in economic well-being in Finland

Olli Lehtonen1 / Markku Tykkyläinen1 / Olli Voutilainen1

Olli Lehtonen, Finland Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, University of Eastern, P.O. Box 111 80101 Joensuu1

Finland Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, Markku Tykkyläinen University of Eastern, P.O. Box 111 80101 Joensuu2

Olli Voutilainen MTT Economic Research Agrifood Research Finland Helsinki3

This content is open access.

Citation Information: European Countryside. Volume 4, Issue 3, Pages 217–239, ISSN (Online) 1803-8417, DOI: 10.2478/v10091-012-0025-4, July 2012

Publication History

Published Online:
2012-07-20

Root causes of rural decline in economic well-being in Finland

This paper analyses how dependence on primary production, distance, climatic conditions and the intensity of land use bring about variations in economic well-being in rural areas. The conventional interpretation in Finland often concludes that economic well-being declines as dependence on primary production increases. The potential oversimplification implied by this statement was studied by testing the explanatory power of distance from the nearest large city, effective temperature sum and the proportion of fields in a comparative setting. The results revealed that economic well-being in rural Finland is best explained by the effective temperature sum, followed by distance, dependence on primary production and the proportion of fields. The only element of well-being which is determined chiefly by dependence on primary production is educational capital, causing a bottleneck preventing rural areas from becoming competitive and hence attractive to new knowledge-intensive industries. These results cast light on the spatial conditions under which the current economic evolution towards a service and knowledge society is taking place and on the spatial manifestations of remnant economic structures in disadvantageous locations.

Tässä artikkelissa tutkimme, kuinka riippuvuus alkutuotannosta, etäisyydestä, ilmastosta ja maankäytöstä on yhteydessä maaseutualueiden taloudelliseen hyvinvointiin Suomessa. Tutkimuksemme pohjautuu perinteiseen näkemykseen siitä, että taloudellinen hyvinvointi vähentyy alkutuotantoriippuvuuden lisääntyessä. Tätä oletusta tutkimme eksploratiivisesti testaamalla kolmen selittävän muuttujan selitysvoimaa suhteessa alkutuotantoriippuvuuteen. Käytetyt selittävät muuttujat olivat alueen etäisyys lähimpään suureen kaupunkiin, tehoisa lämpösumma ja peltopinta-alan osuus alueen pinta-alasta. Tulokset paljastavat, että taloudellinen hyvinvointi maaseudulla on parhaiten selitetty ilmastoa kuvaavalla tehokkaalla lämpösummalla, toiseksi parhaiten alueen sijainnilla eli etäisyydellä suureen kaupunkiin, ja vasta kolmanneksi parhaiten alkutuotantoriippuvuudella. Heikoin selittäjä hyvinvoinnille oli peltopinta-alan osuus maapinta-alasta. Ainoa hyvinvoinnin osatekijä, joka määrittyi selkeästi riippuvuudesta alkutuotantoon, oli koulutuksellinen pääoma. Tuloksemme valottavat spatiaalisia olosuhteita, joissa talouden evoluutio kohti palvelu- ja tietoyhteiskuntaa tapahtuu, ja paljastavat epäsuotuisten sijaintien merkityksen taloudellisessa hyvinvoinnissa.

Keywords: Well-being; rural development; quantitative methods; Finland

Keywords: Hyvinvointi; maaseudun kehitys; kvantitatiiviset menetelmät; Suomi

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