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Rural or urban – what's the difference?


Eyles, KJ, Rural or urban - what's the difference?, Inspiring Connections, 2- 4 July 2012, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, pp. 1-2. (2012) [Plenary Presentation]


This study used 2006 ABS Population Census and ABS Agricultural Census data to examine differences and similarities between, and among, rural and urban Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) in Tasmania, in terms of population, farmers and agricultural land use characteristics. Policies and programs aimed at rural/urban populations and land use; and location decisions related to economic or social activity, are often based on generalisations about rural/urban characteristics. The efficacy of the dichotomous classifications of ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ was explored by comparing variability amongst SLAs. SLAs were classified as rural or urban based on the proportion of the population living in urban settlements with a minimum population of 1,000. Visualisation of characteristics for SLAs using ordered dot-plots enabled comparison between SLAs. Predominance of farmers, both as working residents and in the workforce, was the only characteristic for which there was a clear difference between rural and urban SLAs. Population density also differed markedly, with all rural SLAs having population densities less than that for Tasmania as a whole; and all urban SLAs, bar one, having greater population densities. For all other population, farming, and agricultural land use characteristics tested there was substantial overlap between rural and urban SLAs, revealing a high level of variability. From these results, it is evident that generalisations about populations and farming in rural or urban areas cannot be made with any degree of certainty. Whilst differences may be observed when data are aggregated for rural and urban areas, when disaggregated spatially it becomes clear that labels of ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ may in fact mask a great deal of variability across both rural and urban SLAs. This study demonstrates that the only unequivocal conclusions that can be drawn about populations and farming in Tasmania are that urban areas typically have greater population densities than rural areas; and in rural areas farming as an occupation is more important than in urban areas.

Item Details

Item Type:Plenary Presentation
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Urban geography
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Work and labour market
Objective Field:Employment patterns and change
UTAS Author:Eyles, KJ (Ms Karen Eyles)
ID Code:79804
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:Institute for Regional Development
Deposited On:2012-10-04
Last Modified:2012-10-04

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