Inclusive and Sustainable Territories and Landscapes Platform

Institutional Methods for the Identification of Urban and Rural Areas—A Review for Italy

Recent economic, demographic, and spatial changes have profoundly modified urban and rural areas and generated new territories, characterized by varying degrees of urbanity. The classification methods traditionally used to identify them are based on the distinction between urban and non-urban areas and are no longer functional to describe the territorial outcomes of these transformations. New methods have therefore been formulated and implemented in recent years to replace them. EUROSTAT has developed and updated periodically its own methods, intended to methodologically support scholars to read territorial diversities and transformations. Being the basis for the production of official statistics and data comparison between regions, these methods have fully replaced all the other methods that singular  statistical offices of European countries had previously developed. Several government institutions began adopting specific territorial classifications in their strategic planning documents. These methods differed from those implemented by statistical offices, providing a more accurate and detailed framework for national and regional policies. This also happened in Italy, with ISTAT (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica—National Statistical Office) and many governmental institutions (e.g., National Government Institutions, Department for Economic Development and Cohesion, Ministry for Agricultural Policies, National Rural Network), experimenting with their own urban–rural classification methods to map all or part of the Italian territory. This paper offers an overview of the methods formulated and implemented in Italy over the last 15 years by ISTAT and governmental institutions. During this time, these institutions have developed six different methods to define urban and rural territories and to delimit territories with several degrees of urbanization, such as peri-urban areas. Specifically, ISTAT uses the EUROSTAT method to produce international and national statistics. Governmental institutions adopt methods based on economic and demographic data, which identify various territorial categories in addition to urban/rural ones, in their strategic planning documents. These findings result from desk research based on an analysis of official documents and scientific papers.

Published by:Springer, Cham
Year: 2021

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