The current development of rural areas in Germany is predominantly associated with negative trends in politics, media and society. In the light of reurbanisation, rural areas are often seen as less attractive than cities; demographic change and migration from rural areas to cities can affect the functionality of services of general interest. Especially younger people who leave rural areas in large numbers to live in cities drive the shrinkage process. This can lead to a socioeconomic inbalance of entire regions. As a result rural areas can loose more and more of their competitiveness and future viability.
In contrast, scientific studies on spatial development of rural areas paint a different picture: Rural areas are do have a less dynamic development compared to densely populated regions. However, there are considerable disparities in economic, demographic and infrastructural development that can be observed within the areas categorised as "rural". This applies in particular to a state such as Baden-Württemberg with a historically strong local economy in the countryside. Quite a few rural regions in this federal state are economically prosperous and demographically stable.
The project "Development of Rural Areas in Baden-Württemberg", which is jointly carried out by the Institute for Spatial Planning and Development Planning (IREUS) at the University of Stuttgart and ILS, updates and enhances a previous study on the demographic, economic and infrastructural development of rural areas in Baden-Württemberg. Based on a set of indicators on the level of 1002 municipalities in Baden-Württemberg, this study defined spatial types of rural areas and analysed their respective socioeconomic perspectives, compiled by IREUS in 2011. The update enhances this approach with the aim to analyse current developments and to identify new trends, for example the digital transformation of rural areas. Other aspects are the increase of international immigration and associated challenges of integration and education, as well as the provision of housing. The subject of the study is to update the typology of rural areas as defined in the from 2011. previous study