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Housing vacancy in Atlantic Europe: origins and effects on small towns in Galicia

Abstract : Since 1950, the countryside of Western Europe has been affected by profound socio-spatial changes. Due to net migration and the nuclearisation of families, the urbanisation process has led to demographic growth in rural areas relatively close to big cities. This has led to an increase in mobility and the development of a lifestyle that centres around the suburban model, which has contributed to the depreciation of older buildings. After three decades of policies to aid the construction of new buildings, numerous vacant older houses can be found in Western Europe. At a time when the suburban model is being called into question by politicians, vacant housing is at the heart of the demographic, economic and political issues of rural areas. Housing is said to be vacant when it is not being used for all or part of the year, neither as a primary residence nor as a secondary residence or for short stays. The Spanish countryside, especially Galicia, has numerous vacant houses. In the small towns of Galicia, the area studied, vacancy is generally over 20%, broadly higher than the “normal” rate (for property speculation) of between 6% and 8%. This vacancy rate includes both older, abandoned housing and new construction. Subsequently, the increase in empty homes in Galicia is the result of two processes. First of all, the abandonment of rural space and the disappearance of its family units. Secondly, the overvaluation of new constructions and urban spaces, which accentuate the depopulation of many traditional nuclei.
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Quentin Brouard--Sala, Rubén Lois-Gonzales, Philippe Madeline, Maxime Marie. Housing vacancy in Atlantic Europe: origins and effects on small towns in Galicia. Finisterra, 2018, LIII (109), pp.113-132. ⟨10.18055/finis12141⟩. ⟨halshs-02080540⟩

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