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Research background: Rural areas in Poland occupy more than 93% of the country’s area. This high share somehow automatically becomes a source of causes and effects of differences both at the regional and local level. Development disproportions in rural areas become vividly visible in the places of accumulation of developmental barriers, which derive from the effect of social, economic, environmental and historical factors. The arguments which refer to the place-based policy stress the fact that making use of the unused potential of intermediate and poorly developed territories may actually influence the local and national level of development (Farole et al., 2011). Rural areas, especially peripheral areas, are undoubtedly the territories of unused potential.
Purpose of the article: The aim of the research is to measure the socioeconomic development, including the spatial diversification leading to the development of rural peripheral areas.
Methods: Development is a multidimensional phenomenon. There-fore, its level will be determined by means of the synthetic feature. The synthetic feature will be used as the starting point for identification of peripheral areas and their delimitation. The Jenks method was applied to group entities into classes characterised by similar levels of development (Jenks Natural Breaks Classifica-tion, Jenks, 1967). The spatial scope of the research comprises rural areas in Poland in the western borderland, i.e. West Pomeranian, Lubuskie and Lower Silesian Voivodeships. The research subject were rural and rural-urban communes of the regions under investigation. The empirical material were obtained from the following sources: the Local Data Bank of the Central Statistical Office, unpublished data of the Agricultural Property Agency. Measurements referred to 2015.The object of the study was the development of rural areas in the western borderland, which was identified by comparison of the synthetic features of the following factors: location rent, technical infrastructure, social infrastructure, human capital, social capital and local finance.
Findings & value added: The results of the analysis showed significant differences level of socioeconomic development of rural areas in the western borderland. The research findings did not show a simple dependence between rural development and the share of former state-owned farms in the communes. Areas with a high share of former state-owned farms could be found both in the group of best- and least-developed communes. Due to the range of research, it is illegitimate to make other than intuitive inferences. Thus, we can intuitively indicate that the following group of factors triggered the process of development and helped to break the barriers resulting from the liquidation of state-owned farms: location in an urban agglomeration, natural and tourist values as well as the activity of local authorities. The research should be continued in order to identify the factors and pathways of development in individual areas under analysis.
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