Where do the lands of the Bretons of the towns end and where do those of the Bretons of the fields begin? For some time now, INSEE has been looking into this issue at the national level, in order to take better account of rural space in France and its many facets. This is one of the objects of the assessment around France and its territories published this Thursday.
Nine out of ten municipalities in rural areas
Results in Brittany: more than half (53.7%) of the population lives in rural areas. This proportion of more than one inhabitant in two ranks Brittany in second position among the most rural metropolitan regions. Behind this idea of rural, however, hide several categories of municipalities, depending on their population density and their proximity to cities.
Concretely ? This life “in the countryside” is divided into two large groups. A quarter (24%) of the population lives in a sparse area and really far from urban space, that is to say outside the influence of a major employment center. Closer, therefore, to the classic image of small rural communities. A slightly larger proportion of three out of ten Bretons (30%), on the other hand, live in a rural area structured around an employment center. Far from being isolated territories, these more populated peri-urban municipalities are very connected to cities.
Outside the cities, fewer young people but more children
This Brittany therefore has very diverse municipalities. Beyond this symbolic classification, are there really any common features that unite these rural areas that are so different? Yes, replies INSEE. The less dense nature of these areas creates similarities, such as a longer journey time to get to a convenience store, post office or doctor. The characteristics of the population also coincide.
The over 65s represent an equal weight between urban and rural, but the proportion of 40-64 year olds is higher in rural areas. This trend is reversed at younger ages, with a particularly marked gap among 15-24 year olds: they represent only 9% of the rural population, against 14% of the urban population. Logic: cities naturally attract students or people looking for a first job. On the other hand, the many couples with children settle “in the green” or, in any case, further from the centers. Enough to explain that there are many under 15s there.
An attractive rural Brittany, and not just for retirement
To conclude that there is a lack of dynamism because the population is older there would therefore be a mistake. “The rural space is also attractive for the working people, it is not only a place of residence for the retirees”, summarizes Alain Maillochon, co-author of the study on this subject. On the contrary, it is these territories that have recently drawn the population of the region. Over the past ten years, two thirds of new arrivals have settled in rural areas. “When people come to work in large cities, they do not necessarily settle in the center and, for many, go nearby, in peri-urban areas,” underlines Laurent Auzet, another co-author of the publication.
Consequence: the share of working people in rural areas exceeds that of urban areas. With certain sectors very represented: agriculture, not surprisingly, but also the building, under the effect of new constructions or renovations related to the installations on these territories. “Autonomous rural municipalities”, those which are far from a major employment center, “represent one in five jobs in construction”, underlines Alain Maillochon. And therefore attract all the more.
In short, would rural Brittany still have to grow? “We cannot measure this trend at this point. The future is not written, a lot of elements come into play, ”the authors cautiously temper. While confirming it: over the recent period, almost all of Brittany’s rural areas have been highly attractive. And carry much more, thus, the dynamism of the region than in other territories.
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