Demographic decline: challenges and responses in shrinking small towns of Hungary
The challenge of demographic decline appears in widespread in the transition countries of Eastern Europe. Because of natural decrease and the rapidly growing emigration, shrinking no more remains the problem of cities and region with structural crisis. Our recent researches show that in Hungary almost every typical small town has to face the challenges of demographic shrinking, which endangers their human capital and economic potential, and finally, their ability to act as a central place in rural spaces. Our presentation tries to answer the question, how these Hungarian small towns react for this challenge. We analysed the planning documents and the recent project activities of small towns and searched for the patterns of recognition, acceptance and adequate handle of the demographic problems. Our final results show, that Hungarian small towns very rarely have sharp picture about the depth of the demographic crisis, they commonly believe, that processes can be inverted, and the “acceptance-based strategies” (managing the shrinking) discussed recently in literature is not a real option for them. They more often chose a barely explicit strategy to strengthening the central functions and concentrate the resources remained in surrounding rural areas.