The Development of Rural Peripheral Areas in Lithuania: The Challenges of Socio-Spatial Transition

Gintarė Pociūtė-Sereikienė 1  and Edis Kriaučiūnas 1
  • 1 Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Institute of Human Geography and Demography, , LT-01108, Lithuania


The collapse of the Soviet utopian world, where the government sought to plan and control economic and social processes, caused a wave of significant changes in the post-socialist countries. The territorial regrouping of citizens is one of the hard to control changes that started at the end of the 1990s in Lithuania. This article identifies the major changes in the settlement system in Lithuania and its effects on peripheral areas. The main scope of this article is an analysis of the potential of residents from peripheral areas to adapt to the rapidly changing socio-economic environment. For the analysis, we used data and information gathered during field trips to peripheral rural areas throughout the country between 2013 and 2014. This study found that the residents who remained in peripheral areas had several opportunities in rapidly changing environment after Lithuania gained its Independence in 1990. Interviews with local authorities allowed us to define three groups of residents and their potential to adapt to the labour market: those who are active, those who are passive and those who choose social benefits instead of a work salary. The survey results allowed us to predict that the ‘central-peripheral’ spatial structure will be one of the main factors influencing regional development in Lithuania in the near future.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • [1] Berzins, A. & Zvidrins, P. (2011). Depopulation in the Baltic states. Lithuanian Journal of Statistics 50(1), 39–48.

  • [2] Blowers, A. & Leroy, P. (1994). Power, politics and environmental inequality: A theoretical and empirical analysis of the process of “peripheralisation”. Environmental Politics 3, 197–228. DOI: 10.1080/09644019408414139.

  • [3] Burbulytė-Tsiskarishvili, G. (2012). Measuring Peripherality and Accessibility for Lithuanian Regional Policy. Regional Formation and Development Studies 8(3), 25–35.

  • [4] Bürk, T. (2013). Voices from the Margin: The Stigmatization Process as an Effect of Socio-Spatial Peripheralization in Small-Town Germany. In Fischer-Tahir, A. & Naumann, M., eds., Peripheralization. The Making of Spatial Dependencies and Social Injustice (pp. 168–185). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

  • [5] Burneika, D. (2006). Peculiarities of economic relations between former Soviet countries – influence of different heritage. Geopolitical Studies 14, 409–420.

  • [6] Burneika, D. (2012). Transformations in Lithuania – factors of change and regional patterns. In Gorzelak, G., Goh, C. C. & Fazekas, K., eds., Adaptability and Change: The Regional Dimensions in Central and Eastern Europe (pp. 267–283). Drelow: Poligraf.

  • [7] Chevalier, P., Mačiulyté, L., Razafimaheva, L. & Dedeire, M. (2017). The Leader Programme as a Model of Institutional Transfer: Learning From its Local Implementation in France and Lithuania. European Countryside 9(2), 317–341. DOI: 10.1515/euco-2017-0020.

  • [8] Copus, A. K. (2001). From Core-periphery to Polycentric Development: Concepts of Spatial and Aspatial Peripherality. European Planning Studies 9(4), 539–552. DOI: 10.1080/713666491.

  • [9] Daugirdas, V., Burneika, D., Kriaučiūnas, E., Ribokas, G., Stanaitis, S. & Uberevičiuné, R. (2013). Lietuvos retai apgyventos teritorijos. Vilnius: Lietuvos socialinių tyrimų centras.

  • [10] Daugirdas, V. & Burneika, D. (2008). Peripherality and peripheral regions in Lithuania – borderland of EU. In Baubinas, R., ed., Problem regions in Lithuania (sociogeographical aspect) (pp. 6–12). Vilnius: Geografijos ir geologijos institutas.

  • [11] Deleuze, G. (2004). Desert islands and other texts. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press.

  • [12] Dringelis, L. (2013). Lietuvos miestai, miesteliai ir kaimai: jų urbanistinių ir demografinių pokyčių įtaka šalies kraštovaizdžio erdvinės struktūros savitumui Juornal of architecture and urbanism 37(4), 310–323. DOI: 10.3846/20297955.2013.869884.

  • [13] Elcock, H. (2014). Multi-level governance and peripheral places: The North-East of England. Local Economy 29(4–5), 323–333. DOI: 10.1177/0269094214541524.

  • [14] Eriksson, M. (2008). (Re)Producing a “peripheral” region – Northern Sweden in the news. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 90, 369–388. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0467.2008.00299.x.

  • [15] Gutiérrez, J. & Urbano, P. (1996). Accessibility in the European Union: the impact of the Trans European road network. Journal of Transport Geography 4(1), 15–25. DOI: 10.1068/a301337.

  • [16] Janc, K. (2006). Human and social capital in Poland – spatial diversity and relations. Europa XXI 14, 39–55.

  • [17] Jeřábek, M. (2006). Research into peripheral areas in the Czech Republic – changes in the landscape and land use in the model regions. Europa XXI 15, 171–183.

  • [18] Juska, A., Poviliunas A. & Pozzuto, R. (2005). Resisting Marginalisation: The Rise of the Rural Community Movement in Lithuania. Sociologia Ruralis 45(1–2), 3–21. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9523.2005.00287.x.

  • [19] Juškevičius, P. (2015). Lietuvos miestų sistemos raida ir jos ateities perspektyvos. Acta Academiae Artium Vilensis 76, 11–34.

  • [20] Kavoliutė, F. (2014). Gyvenamųjų vietovių vardai – nematerialusis šalies kultūros paveldas [Place names – intangible cultural heritage]. Geografijos metraštis 47, 88–102.

  • [21] Keeble, D. E. (1989). Core-periphery disparities, recession and new regional dynamisms in the European Community. Geography 74(1), 1–11.

  • [22] Kinsey, B. S. (2006). Cleavage formation in Norway: The Contextual Dimension. Scandinavian Political Studies 29(3), 261–283. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9477.2006.00152.x.

  • [23] Kondrotaitė, G. (2006). Socialinės rizikos šeimos Lietuvoje: atvejo studija. Filosofija.Sociologija 4, 55–60.

  • [24] Kriaučiūnas, E., Krupickaité, D., Pociūté-Sereikiné, G. & Ubarevičiuné, R. (2014). Lietuvos kaimo gyvenviečių funkcijų kaitos regioninės ypatybės. Geografijos metraštis 47, 70–87.

  • [25] Kriaučiūnas, E. (2010). Some development patterns of Lithuanian rural territories in 1990– 2010. Geopolitical Studies 16, 199–212.

  • [26] Kriaučiūnas, E. & Daugirdas, V. (2013). Rečiausiai gyvenamų Lietuvos teritorijų gyvenviečių tinklo ypatumai Geografijos metraštis 46, 32–45.

  • [27] Krugman, P. R. (2010). The New Economic Geography, Now Middle-aged. Regional Studies 45(1), 1–7. DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2011.537127.

  • [28] Kühn, M. (2015). Peripheralization: Theoretical Concepts Explaining Socio-Spatial Inequalities. European Planning Studies 23(2), 367–378. DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2013.862518.

  • [29] Kühn, M. & Bernt, M. (2013). Peripheralization and power – Theoretical debates. In Fischer-Tahir, A. & Naumann, M., eds., PeripheralizationThe making of spatial dependencies and social injustice (pp. 302–317). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

  • [30] Lang, T. (2012). Shrinkage, Metropolisation and Peripheralisation in East Germany. European Planning Studies 20(10), 1747–1754. DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2012.713336.

  • [31] Lang, T. (2015). Socio-economic and political responses to regional polarisation and socio-spatial peripheralisation in Central and Eastern Europe: a research agenda. Hungarian Geographical Bulletin 64(3), 171–185. DOI: 10.15201/hungeobull.64.3.2.

  • [32] Mačiulytė, J. & Bagočiūtė, A. (2008). Regional Developement Disparities and Regional Policy in Lithuania after Accession to the European Union. In Gaidoš, P., ed., Regional Disparities in Central Europe (pp. 87–97). Bratislava: Interlingua.

  • [33] Maldžiūnas, V. (1970). Teritorinių mikrorajonų centrų tinklas Lietuvos TSR [PhD thesis]. Kaunas: Kauno politechnikos institutas.

  • [34] Marada, M., Chromý, P., Jančák, V. & Havlíček, T. (2006). Space polarization and peripheral regions in Czechia. Europa XXI 15, 29–34.

  • [35] Miggelbrink, J. & Meyer, F. (2015). Lost in Complexity? Researching the Role of Socio-Spatial Ascriptions in the Process of Peripheralization. In Lang, T., Henn, S., Ehrlich., K. & Sgibnev, W., eds., Understanding Geographies of Polarization and Peripheralization (pp. 62–79). Basingstoke: Palgrave.

  • [36] Nagy, G. (2006). Economic potential of regions – modelling the spatial structure of Hungary in the period of transition. Europa XXI 14, 7–26.

  • [37] Pocius, A. (2007). Changes in internal territorial Lithuanian resident mobility and influence of migration of labour market. Survey of Lithuanian economy 2, 24–32.

  • [38] Pociūtė, G. (2014). Trends of imbalances of demographic and socioeconomic development in post-reform period in Lithuania. In Churski, P., ed., The social and economic growth vs. the emergence of economic growth and stagnation areas (pp. 129–150). Poznan: Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe.

  • [39] Pociūtė-Sereikienė, G., Kriaučiūnas, E. & Ubarevičienė, R. (2014). Peripheralisation trends in rural territories: the case of Lithuania. Studies in Agricultural Economics 116, 122–130. DOI: 10.7896/j.1421.

  • [40] Rokkan, S. & Urwin, D. W. (1982). Introduction: Centres and peripheries in Western Europe. In Rokkan, S. & Urwin, D. W., ed., The Politics of territorial identity: Studies in European regionalism (pp. 1–17). London: SAGE Publications.

  • [41] Rupas, V. & Vaitekūnas, S. (1980). Lietuvos kaimo gyventojai ir gyvenvietės [Lithuanian rural population and settlements]. Vilnius: Mintis.

  • [42] Šešelgis, K. (1975). Rajoninio planavimo ir urbanistikos pagrindai. Vilnius: Mintis.

  • [43] Šešelgis, K. (1996). Teritoriju planavimo raida Lietuvoje. Urbanistika ir Architektūra 21(1), 4– 19.

  • [44] Spiekermann, K. & Wegener, M. (1996). Trans-European Networks and Unequal Accessibility in Europe. European Journal of Regional Development 4, 35–42.

  • [45] Spoor, M. (2013). Multidimensional Social Exclusion and the ‘Rural-Urban Divide’ in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Sociologia Ruralis 53(2), 139–157. DOI: 10.1111/soru.12008.

  • [46] Swain, N. (2016). Eastern European Rurality in Neo-Liberal, European Union World. Sociologia Ruralis 56 (4), 574–596. DOI: 10.1111/soru.12131.

  • [47] Ubarevičienė, R. & van Ham, M. (2017). Population decline in Lithuania: who lives in declining regions and who leaves? Regional Studies, Regional Science, 4(1), 57–79. 10.1080/21681376.2017.131312.

  • [48] Vaishar, A. (2006). Regional periphery: What does it mean? Europa XXI 15, 7–12.

  • [49] Vaitekūnas, S. (1989). Gyvenviečių geografija. Vilnius: Vilniaus Universitetas.

  • [50] Vaitekūnas, S. (2006). Lietuvos gyventojai: Per du tūkstantmečius. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas.

  • [51] Van Berkel, D. B. & Verburg, P. H. (2011). Sensitising rural policy: Assessing spatial variation in rural development options for Europe. Land Use Policy 28(3), 447–459. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2010.09.002.

  • [52] Vanagas, J., Kriśjane, Z., Noorkoiv, R. & Staniunas, E. (2002). Planning urban systems in Soviet times and in the era of transition: the case of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Geographia Polonica 75(2), 75–100.

  • [53] Willett, J. (2010). Why is Cornwall So Poor? Narrative, Perception and Identity [PhD thesis]. Exeter: University of Exeter.

  • [54] Census 1989 (1991). Lithuanian 1989 population census data. Vilnius: Statistics Lithuania.

  • [55] European Commission (2017). Commission Staff Working Document. Country Report Lithuania 2017. SWD (2017) 80 final. Available online at: Accessed 22 February 2017.

  • [56] LR Vyriausybės nutarimas (2003). Dėl probleminių teritorijų išskyrimo kriterijų [LR Government decision “Due to the criterion to distinguish problem territories”]. Act. No. 35–1483.

  • [57] LR Vyriausybės nutarimas (2007). Dėl probleminių teritorijų [LR Government decision “Due to problem territories”]. Act. No. 15–555.

  • [58] Lyman, R. (2016). Like Trump, Europe‘s Populist Win Big With Rural Voters. The New York Times December 6. Available online at: Accessed 7 December 2016.

  • [59] Raagmaa, G. (2003). Centre-periphery model explaning the regional development of informational and transitional society. Conference abstract. 43rd Congress of the European regional science association (ERSA) in Jyväskylä, Finland, 27–30 August 2003. Available online at: Accessed 15 January 2017.

  • [60] Statistics Lithuania (2017). Database of indicators. Available online at: Accessed 12 December 2016.


Journal + Issues