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Uwe Neumann and Christoph M. Schmidt (2006)

A Ray of Hope, Though Skies Are Still Grey – Scope and Impact of Demographic Change in the Ruhr Region*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 31, 3-4/2006, p. 443-468, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

Recent figures suggest that the long-term population decline in the Ruhr region may have levelled off. The Ruhr can nonetheless be expected to face a considerable shift in its age structure, and this far sooner than in other regions in Germany. Since it is very likely that regional economic and demographic change will continue to be closely entwined, further economic decline threatens this region unless business and political actors take vigorous action. This paper first examines how demographic change has affected this region so far and then reviews current regional population forecasts. Finally it discusses what potentials might arise from demographic change from a regional viewpoint.

In an era characterised by demographic change, economically successful regions will continue to be among the winners in recruiting a mobile, high-performance workforce. A new "demography-specific innovation potential" might emerge in the Ruhr provided that the challenges of the near future are mastered successfully. In coming decades successful regional development will be contingent upon (i) alleviating the effects of demographic change, (ii) properly utilising scarce resources where there have been changes in such scarcities, and (iii) pro-active shaping of relative scarcities.

* Original title: Lichtblicke, aber keine Entwarnung – Ausmaß und Konsequenzen des demographischen Wandels im Ruhrgebiet (full text in German only)

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