Delivering health care, education and other services of general interest to inhabitants regardless of where they live is a mandate for OECD countries. However, meeting this mandate is becoming more challenging for many countries in recent years because of tight fiscal budgets in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, depopulation, demographic pressures of ageing societies, and rising public spending on both social services and health care. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought further demand for public services in rural regions and the consequent need for investment in a context of high spending needs and reduced revenues.
The cost of service provision increases with the degree of remoteness and sparsity. Lower density means higher transportation costs, lower economies of scale, and greater difficulty in attracting and retaining professionals such as teachers and doctors. At the same time, new technological advances have opened the door to providing quality services in new ways. Many governments increasingly pursue integrated and flexible approaches to the provision of services as a way of maintaining quality and access in lower density and remote areas.
Understanding present and future public service delivery costs (*) (**)
This project provides estimates of current and future costs of education and health services provision at different regional levels and types of human settlements by using criteria such as population age structure, settlement changes, or the benefits and viability of integrated and flexible models. Based on quantitative and qualitative indicators, the project provides an effective toolkit for policymakers to understand the effects of various policy responses and design sustainable service provision solutions.
Strategic governance plan for rural depopulation in Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León and Galicia (RESOE) (*)
The RESOE regions of Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León and Galicia in Spain have a high degree of rurality, and are facing challenges associated with population decline and ageing. The project Strategic Governance Plan for Rural Depopulation in RESOE aims at designing an action plan for each region and a common strategy for the four regions.
Managing population decline in Estonia through spatial interventions (*)
This project designs effective spatial policy interventions against a scenario of population decline in Estonia. It identifies a set of actionable policy measures in Estonia’s smaller cities and rural areas. The project also seeks to improve the efficiency and impact of national authorities’ policy by strengthening vertical and horizontal coordination within multilevel governance framework and cross-sectoral coordination at the central government by including the study of current governance models.
Understanding public service provision in Alentejo: a case study
This project develops actionable policy recommendations to manage the expected population decline in rural and peripheral urban areas in the Portuguese region of Alentejo. It facilitates the development of cross-sectoral approaches of spatial and sectoral policy interventions by the regional government with the objective of generating efficiency gains to reduce costs and improve quality of service provision.
OECD (2020), "Policy implications of Coronavirus crisis for rural development", OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19), OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/6b9d189a-en.
OECD (2020), "The territorial impact of COVID-19: Managing the crisis across levels of government", OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19), OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/d3e314e1-en.
OECD (2018b), OECD Rural Policy Reviews: Poland 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264289925-en.
OECD (2017b), OECD Territorial Reviews: Northern Sparsely Populated Areas, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264268234-en.
OECD (2017c), OECD Territorial Reviews: Sweden 2017: Monitoring Progress in Multi-level Governance and Rural Policy, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264268883-en.
OECD (2016), OECD Territorial Reviews: Japan 2016, OOECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264250543-en.
OECD (2010), Strategies to Improve Rural Service Delivery, OECD Rural Policy Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264083967-en
(*) European Commission
(**) Joint Research Centre (JRC)
For further information, please contact Ana Moreno Monroy