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”Invisible” populations in the countryside: Assessing relationships of second home users to rural areas in Sweden

Research project

This project highlights second home users in the Swedish countryside, a group that is "invisible" in public statistical accounts. The purpose of this project is to analyze how second home users relate to their rural properties and the countryside. The following research questions are asked: i. How great and where are invisible populations? ii. How and when are second homes used in various regions today? iii. What plans do second home owners have for their properties and how will they use them in the future? iv. Do second home users perceive rural and urban homes and areas as complementary and equally important spaces catering for different needs and functions?

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2008-01-01 2011-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Faculty of Social Sciences, Transportation Research Unit

Research area

Economic history, Human geography

Project description

This project highlights second home users in the Swedish countryside, a group that is "invisible" in public statistical accounts. The
purpose of this project is to analyze how second home users relate to their rural properties and the countryside.

The following research questions are asked:

i. How great and where are invisible populations?
ii. How and when are second homes used in various regions today?
iii. What plans do second home owners have for their properties and how will they use them in the future?
iv. Do second home users perceive rural and urban homes and areas as complementary and equally important spaces catering for different
needs and functions?

A theoretical point of departure is that rural restructuring does not only influence population figures and economy, it also implies new roles for the countryside, for example, as arena for temporary dwelling. This development entails the creation of new spatial partnerships between urban and rural areas.

Data for assessing these changes is collected by a mail survey
to 4 000 persons. This data, a second home database and a GIS are then used to create scenarios illustrating factual and possible
consequences of second home use on population patterns, planning and rural-urban relationships in Sweden.