New publication shows gender differences in young peoples wishes to stay in rural Norway


Norwegian project researchers Ingunn Marie Eriksen and Patrick Lie Andersen (NOVA, Oslo Metropolitan University) discuss gender differences in young people's psychosocial driving in rural areas in Norway. The article The gendered district effect: psychosocial reasons why girls wish to leave their rural communities was published in Journal of Youth studies.

Rural out-migration of young people has mostly been explained with the pull of the city. In this mixed-method study, Eriksen and Andersen explore whether young people also experience a push to leave the rural community due to a lack of psychosocial thriving. The quantitative analysis of the Ungdata-survey among young people aged 13–16 years (n = 141,058) shows that girls imagine leaving more than boys, and also fare worse on many indicators for psychosocial well-being. There is a linear decline in girls' psychosocial well-being the less centrally they live. Eriksen and Andersen call this phenomenon the gendered district effect.

Contrary to expectations, Eriksen and Andersen found that rural girls without higher education aspirations are those who least want to stay in the rural community. It is likely that a lower degree of psychosocial well-being is part of the reason that more girls in rural areas wish to leave their homeplace. The qualitative analysis of the rural village of Smallville (n = 21) explores this, showing that girls commonly wanted to leave to escape a toxic social environment, which also offered few status-filled work opportunities in the village. The girls were more affected by the rural community's restricting social norms, leaving girls with poor self-images and the wish to leave.

The study is based on a combination of qualitative and quantitavite data. The Qualitative longitudinal study includes 21 rural young people that are studied in the Inequality in youth -project, which is one of the national follow-ups included in The Future of Nordic Youth in Rural Regions: A Cross-national Qualitative Longitudinal Study in four Nordic Countries -consortium. Ungdata is a national data collection system, administered by the research institute Norwegian Social Science (NOVA) and the regional Drug and Alcohol Competence Centres, with the aim of providing data about young people's life situation.