Historically, the economic contribution of rural areas to regions was clear: it was the provider of farm produce and other raw materials such as coal. Rural employment was evidently based on the exploitation of natural capital. More recently this picture has been obscured by several trends such as the declining importance of agriculture in rural economies which are becoming increasingly diversified, the increasing mobility of populations and new approaches to economic development and to governance. This paper compares current employment patterns, and opportunities for/constraints on, rural economic diversification, in two contrasting regions of the EU in terms of typology, but of roughly similar size in terms ofpopulation, the Chelmsford and Braintree 'travel to work area' in Essex CC NUTS3 region (UK), and Bistrita-Nasaud county in Romania. In both regions there is a lack of jobs in rural areas. In Essex the major socio-economic response is commuting while in Bistrita-Nasaud it is international migration and/ or withdrawal in self-subsistence agriculture. The former region has an economically diverse rural economy and the greatest opportunities for job creation are knowledge-based, low environmental impact businesses; the agri-food chain (but not primary production); short break tourism; home based businesses/consultancies; home-based working remote from the office; services for the ageing population; and leisure activities. In the latter, the economy is still heavily based on agriculture, and the agri-food supply chain, forestiy, tourism, crafts and services for the population are the most promising sectors for job creation.


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