Governance Capacity


Migration Flows and Their Impact on Governance Capacity

The distinction between attractiveness and governance capacity does not mean that attractiveness and migration flows have no impact on social cohesion and governance. As a matter of fact, it is well known that:

  • a strong personal attachment to places encourages local inhabitants to stay where they live, and facilitates the definition of collective identities, the identification of common goods and the implementation of public policies and actions (SENCEBE 2004; FARINELLI 2001)

  • a high level of attractiveness of a place for people living elsewhere (tourists for example) or for incomers may also be a source of collective pride for local people living there, and can be a basis for collective actions and for local management, as a common vision and sense of place is built and shared (PERROT & DE LA SOUDIERE 1998). In addition, it can lead to greater diversity and openness to the outside. But this does not necessarily result in close ties with the old-established families.

  • Strong local attractiveness can generate immigration flows (BURNETT 1998), and social diversification which can provoke change in social relations in the place, making them richer and more liable for good governance. Such phenomena essentially occur:

    • in city outskirts, in rural spaces which are very dependant on a near urban area (FERRAO & LOPES 2003), or

    • with the arrival of urban incomers to the countryside that generates exchanges and communication between different cultures, i.e., potentially, collective actions and local governance. It thus generates a new vision on each culture and identity (FARINELLI 2001).Otherwise, GERBAUX & MARCELPOLI (2003) have also demonstrated the importance of local involvement and openness to incomers for the improvement of good governance in ski-resorts.

In touristic hot spots such a Zermatt in Switzerland, housing prices have risen so steeply, that young local families were unable to compete with rich holiday home aspirants. To mitigate the situation, the local municipality had to introduce strict quotas for appartments used as second homes (Source: M.KROPAC).
Strong local attractiveness can create a competition for land and housing ensuing high prices for both, which makes it more difficult for local people to stay.

When the competition is fierce and the price very high, this can be a source of conflicts (MAO & DEBARBIEUX 2004). That is why improving rural spaces repopulation for example has to focus on the access to housing and land property (FARINELLI 2001). Incomers, especially (local) young couples, often do not have enough money to buy a house.

It is thus necessary for local communities to spread the information about such housing possibilities to the outward world in order to maintain or to support their attractiveness. The experts suggest that municipalities keep a much closer eye on property speculation of the sort that is widespread in certain regions of the Alps (France for example) and make affordable building plots and mortgages available to young families.

Hence, the challenge is to ensure that the inhabitants of Alpine towns and communities discuss their ideas and projects with one another, and that they address the preservation and development of their social, cultural, natural and economic environment. Territorial attractiveness does thus not only depend on external or local economic investments. It clearly depends on the whole "local productive system", on the local environment as well as on the local social capital.
Further Readings & Links

This paper draws on recent empirical studies of young people in rural areas of Britain and other European countries to illustrate how social exclusion may operate in rural areas, particularly in the transition from education to employment.

REINER (2007)
This article discusses the framework conditions and challenges for sustainable development of Alpine Tourism.

This article discusses the controversial actions of depopulated French municipalities to attract new inhabitants

This article discusses how a "secondary residential culture" has developed in rural areas of France.

Out-Migration and Rootedness

Brain drain is a phenomenon with important demographic consequences, but which is directly related to economic and sociological issues. It clearly demonstrates the complexity of territorial attractiveness and also the difficulty for people to find a way between local rootedness and professional choices. Territorial attractiveness does thus not only depend on external or local economic investments. It clearly depends on the whole "local productive system", on the local environment as well as on the local social capital.

The will to leave but also to maintain a strong rootedness, or the will to live in the mountains while working in town in the valleys can be interpreted like spatial symptoms of schizophrenia that affects Alpine people, quartered between two kinds of attractiveness: an economic one, and a sociological one.

But it also has to be mentioned that some people try to escape from this schizophrenia as they choose to stay in the valley where they have grown up because of a very strong rootedness, even if this choice implies employment difficulties (i.e. Chamonix valley, France) mainly for young people (DAX & MACHOLD 2003).

Their local integration thus becomes very tricky when it globally appears that local systems of intervention (public and private) have a very poor conscience and knowledge about the problems and needs of young people in rural areas (LAFOND et. al. 2005).
A recent survey conducted in Switzerland shows that in spite of a lack of specific data, brain drain may concern more than 70% of high-qualified Swiss people.

Important differences can be observed between the cantons: Valais and Uri are seriously affected Nidwalden canton succeeds at keeping its graduates because of interesting income tax rates (one of the lowest in Switzerland).

Each year the Grisons canton, for example, looses 13 million Swiss Francs due to this brain drain and can thus hardly maintain local services in depopulated areas. The main reason why high-qualified people leave is the lack of professional perspectives because of a lack of appropriate jobs (and also the difficulty to find a job for the spouse).

Nevertheless, most of high-qualified people who left their region keep up a strong feeling of rootedness and 80% declare to probably come back if they could find an attractive job (84% of the 80%), with their wife or husband (56% of the 80%), with an "appropriate" income (50% of the 80%) (EGGER et al. 2003).
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This paper concentrates on employment dynamics and the influence of actors strategies on the employment development in two French départements located in the Alps.

EGGER et al. (2003)
An excellent report on the brain drain of Alpine areas of Switzerland.