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Urban to Rural Migration in France

Tuesday 19 December 2006

A recent study claims that up to 7 million people currently living in towns and cities of France want to relocate to the countryside. Nearly half of those interviewed by IPSOS, the French pollster, expressed a desire to do so within the next few years.

One of the major factors behind this trend is a demographic one, with a large increase in those of retirement age occurring over the next decade, many of whom propose to flock to the countryside.

Whilst this may be good news for those areas who have suffered from a decline in their population since the Second World War, there is concern amongst local mayors that rural communes lack the infrastructure and funds to deal with the exodus.

The cost of bringing these services up to an adequate standard would dwarf the budgetary capacity of most local councils, most of whom have very limited resources and a small population.

Out of a total of 36,000 communes in the country, there are no less than 33,000 communes with a population less than 2500 residents.

In a separate survey of French attitudes towards moving abroad, by Stepstone, the recruitment agency, 22% of the French expressed an interest in working abroad.

This figure was only marginally below that of the Germans (27%) who expressed the greatest interest, in a survey of European attitudes to a willingness to work abroad.

Indeed, figures from the French statistical agency INSEE, show that there are already 1.3 million French officially registered as living abroad, most in the USA or Western Europe.

However, the figures for countries within the European Union are vastly understated, as there is no need to register with the regulatory authorities when you relocate to a country within the EU.

Thus, the figures show less than 100,000 French people living in the UK, a figure considered by many to probably less than half the actual number who do live in the country.

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