Commercial counterurbanisation: An emerging force in rural economic development

Gary Bosworth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


After rapid urban growth and industrialisation, the postwar era has seen counterurbanisation become a dominant demographic trend in the UK. Much has been written about the residential patterns of counterurbanisation, but the associated growth of rural business has attracted less attention. The author proposes the term 'commercial counterurbanisation' to describe the growth of rural economies stimulated by inward migration. In the North East of England, in-migrants own over half of rural microbusinesses, they are more growth-oriented, and they are responsible for considerably more employment than the whole of the agriculture sector. In arguing that commercial counterurbanisation is more than just a spatial decentralisation of business activity, the author explores the social as well as the economic motivations of 'counterurbanising' business owners. Commercial counterurbanisation can be a two-stage process, as the decision to work in a rural area or run a rural business may occur several years after a residential move. Where this time lag exists, in-migrant business owners will be influenced by different factors in different locations. In the context of neoendogenous development, the balance of local and extralocal forces is particularly significant. This leads to the conclusion that in-migrant business owners need to become embedded into the rural community for the wider rural economy to realise the maximum benefits from commercial counterurbanisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-981
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number4
Early online date1 Apr 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


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