Research Project

Particularly in structurally weak and sparsely populated rural regions, the consequences of a negative natural population balance and the emigration that has often persisted for decades have an effect on the continuance of certain public services, especially against the backdrop of demographic change and the precarious financial situation of individual municipalities: schools and doctors' practices close, or volunteer fire departments are restricted in the action they can take. In addition, these areas often lack qualified workers and other important local characteristics (such as educational institutions). Under these general conditions, in Germany for around two decades ensuring the provision of basic public services and making rural areas attractive and sustainable has been a growing challenge.

Country comparisons

Other countries in Europe also face similar challenges in rural areas, sometimes with a significantly lower population density. It is important to examine to what extent there are good examples in these countries that can provide additional insights for Germany.

The focus of the research project is on three areas of public services which, as far as the project managers are aware, demonstrate special qualities in other European countries:

• medical and nursing care which represents the quality of life in different phases of life in rural areas;

• fire services and hazard prevention, which has been guaranteed by volunteer fire brigades for decades, is disintegrating especially in regions with emigration and an aging population;

• post-school education and training whose effects on regional development in Germany have barely been studied.

Project selection and study

The analysis of experiences in other European countries regarding the adaptation of infrastructures is used for the development of innovative approaches in Germany and can - under consideration of suitable adaptation strategies - offer new solutions. In the InDaLE project, three foreign and two German case studies - in total 15 case studies - are analyzed for each area of public services. These projects are to start with concrete problems of guaranteeing these services of general interest in rural regions in Germany. This facilitates the comparability and adaptability of the European findings with regard to objectives, initiation and implementation.

Transfer of knowledge

The joint project will also prepare findings for the necessary knowledge transfer to the municipalities and states. The results will be processed in various communication formats (e.g. workshops, project website, final report with recommendations for action, fact sheet and working paper) both for the stakeholders of the application practice and for science. The transfer of knowledge into practice is thus already initiated during the processing of the joint project. This is done in particular by the Expert Workshop 1 on the conclusion of the preparation and evaluation of the 15 foreign and German model projects and the Expert Workshop 2 on the transferability of the results to the conditions in Germany. The workshop results will be incorporated into the final preparation of the final project report and the recommendations for action. In addition, scientific publications and presentations at national and international conferences on relevant aspects are planned.