Rural regions in Australia have been, and continue to be, distinguished by very different population and labour market characteristics than those of more urbanised areas. Since the 1980s,rural regions have been exposed to a range of economic events and policies which has impacted on the structure and composition of the population and the labour force. These changes include trade liberalisation and globalisation, deregulation, declining numbers of agricultural establishments, advances in technology, increases in productivity and changes in the levels of public and private provision of goods and services. In addition, in recent years, serious shortages of labour, particularly skilled labour, has emerged as a major issue facing rural regions. However, there has been little economic research into rural labour markets relative to other labour markets, particularly since the 1980s. While there has been significant public discussion and political debate in recent years on the apparent changes experienced by rural regions, evidence regarding the nature, causes and impacts of these changes has often been anecdotal. For example, there is the popular notion of the 'tree change' which refers to the idea that people are leaving metropolitan areas and moving to rural areas. Concurrently, there is also the significant discussion on the 'rural downturn, which refers to the belief that rural regions are declining in term of population and employment growth. Further, the agricultural sector has continued to be cited as the likely cause for downturns in rural population and employment growth rates in rural areas. However, again, there is a lack of economic research to substantiate these claims. The aim of this thesis is to redress the lack of economic research and to provide a comprehensive analysis of rural labour markets and population in Australia since the 1980s. Analysis focuses on the changing structure and composition of rural labour markets and the impact of population shifts on rural localities. Evidence is provided on the extent to which two decades of significant structural, technological and regulatory change have impacted on rural labour markets in Australia. This then provides a sound basis for the policy discussion in this thesis on population and labour market changes in rural Australia and the causes and implications of these changes.
|Date of Award||2007|
|Supervisor||Phil Lewis (Supervisor) & Anne Daly (Supervisor)|