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Boomtowns, Resource Dependence and Socio-economic Well-being

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The issue of socio-economic well-being in resource-dependent communities has been one of ongoing interest for geographers, rural sociologists and economists. While much research focuses on the impacts of industry downturn and closure on well-being, this paper is focused on the implications of large-scale resource development and rapid growth in boomtowns. In contrast to a long tradition of research in other parts of the developed world, relatively few studies explicitly examine the relationship between resource reliance and socio-economic well-being in Australia's resource-dependent regions. Within the context of a nationwide resources boom, this paper presents an analysis of resource dependence and socio-economic well-being in the remote mining towns of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Port Hedland and Karratha-Dampier in Western Australia. The paper looks into the anatomy of the resources boom in terms of local demographic and economic change, and examines a range of socio-economic indicators, such as income, cost of living, housing affordability, welfare receipts and unemployment. The paper then contemplates the implications of rapid growth in Western Australia's resource boomtowns and the associated challenges for regional governance.

Keywords: Resource dependence; Western Australia; boomtowns; socio-economic well-being

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia, 2: Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Canada

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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