Divergence of the sustaining and marginalizing communities in the process of rural aging : A case study of Yurihonjo-shi, Akita, Japan

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-513
Journal / PublicationSustainability Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


This study examines the marginalization process of rural communities, which is caused by the decline of community-based autonomy and various activities in relation to the decline and aging of their populations, based on the frameworks that describe the process in three stages. A field survey was conducted in five rural communities in Yurihonjo-shi in Akita Prefecture, Japan. These communities were selected based on their locations, population decline and aging rates, and population sizes and were categorized into two groups, the remote and the central communities. This survey was composed of two sections: (1) a questionnaire-based survey to households and (2) an interview survey with the chairperson of each community. In order to capture the multidimensionality of residents' daily lives, sustainable development indicators, which are originally designed to capture the well-being of nations, were utilized to develop the questionnaire. The results demonstrated significant differences between the two groups of communities mainly on four aspects: (1) farming type, (2) visits and roles of out-migrated family, (3) self-evaluation of living conditions, and (4) residents' future concerns. These findings suggest the current state of the remote community can be seen as that of the "marginalizing" community, for which a welfare-based approach is recommended to secure the living conditions of the residents. On the other hand, the current state of the central community is considered as that of the "sustaining" community for which a revitalization approach is recommended in order to rejuvenate the diminishing community functions. © 2012 Springer Japan.

Research Area(s)

  • Aging population, Marginalization process, Population decline, Rural communities, Sustainable development indicators (SDIs)