A rural typology for strategic European policies

M. van Eupen, M. J. Metzger, M. Perez-Soba, P. N. Verburg, A. van Doorn, R. G. H. Bunce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role that the agricultural sector plays in rural areas has considerably changed in the last five decades, and is reflected in a major shift towards multi-dimensional, multi-sectoral land use. Existing European rural typologies are mostly one-dimensional, based on a rather coarse administrative scale data and are unable to define adequately the diversity of the regions involved. The rural typology presented in this paper has been produced as a response to a new policy need for typologies addressing the diversity in regional rurality. This paper describes the method developed and explores the relevance of the results for future rural policies. This new rural typology incorporates two dimensions identified by statistical screening of a range of geographical and socioeconomic data related to the territorial variation of European rural land. The use of high-resolution raster data at 1 km(2) resolution provides large flexibility for the construction of individual classifications, with a variable number of classes for a variety of objectives. In the example presented, nine divisions were produced, which were subsequently summarised into three rural classes termed Pen-urban, Rural and Deep Rural. The rural typology enables the consistent identification of comparable rural areas and intergradations with urban land in the European territory, and describes the degree of generalisation that is possible. In addition, it provides a spatially explicit framework for scientific analysis and communication to both European policy makers and local stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-482
Number of pages10
JournalLand Use Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • European Union
  • Rural typology
  • Rural development
  • Territorial policy
  • Regional geography


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