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Methods for the identification of urban, rural and peri-urban areas in Europe: An overview
This paper explores the methods formulated to identify urban, rural and peri-urban areas in Europe over the last 15 years. The traditional methods based on urban–rural dichotomy are no longer functional to describe these territories, which are in constant transformation due to changes in urbanisation, demographic dynamics and economic specialisation. As such, statistical institutions, governmental organisations and scholars have developed new methods to delimitate urban and rural areas and have shed new light on the possibilities of describing peri-urban areas more accurately. However, their efforts to find the ‘perfect classification method’ that would precisely identify all the territories has led to an overproduction of methods and techniques. Thanks to an analysis of official and statistical documents as well as scientific papers published on this issue, this paper lists these new methods and clusters them in several classes based upon the variables they use to classify territories: demographic dynamics, economic and social indicators, distance and settlement structures, as well as the combination of some of these variables. Findings suggest that the most widely used methods are those based on demographic and socio-economic variables. Hybrid methods that result from the combination of several variables are less used.
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Valentina Cattivelli , Phd is a full-time researcher, lecturer and project manager. Her research interests are in regional economics and policies for local and rural development, urban-rural linkages and transformations, as well as territorial and social inequalities, social and urban agriculture and urban gardening. Dr. Cattivelli has collaborated with international and Italian research centres (Eurac Research, Ersaf and ISMEA) and has also been an adjunct professor at several Italian universities (Ferrara, Parma, Bolzano and the Polytechnic of Milan). Dr. Cattivelli has been listed in ‘Unstoppable Women’: a list of 1,000 women who are changing Italy.