HEADING FOR THE CITIES? GENDER AND LIFESTYLE PATTERNS IN RURAL YOUTHS' RESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES
The Norwegian settlement pattern has been characterized by centralization over recent decades, in particular due to many young people leaving the countryside. In contemporary rural migration research their rural-to-urban migration has been interpreted as reflections of strong urban residential preferences; rural youths want to seek out the cities and their manifold educational, occupational and cultural offers. Special attention has been given to gender- and lifestyle-related differences; rural girls are assumed less localistic in their mindsets than boys and there are similar differences between groups of rural youths leading different lifestyles. The article critically assesses these propositions by use of survey data gathered among rural youths in the Mountain Region (Fjellregionen) of mid-eastern Norway. Employing a life phase approach, the article concludes that rural youths may have strong urban residential preferences for their ‘young adult' phase; however, for other phases of life rural youths are less likely to hold urban preferences. Further, the analysis confirms gender and lifestyle differences in rural youth's residential preferences, though these nevertheless seem to be over-emphasized in contemporary rural migration research.