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Natural decrease and out-migration are the main processes causing depopulation of rural areas in most of the easternEU countries. The causes of depopulation are varied as well as numerous and might differwithin the same country or even a region. Both internal and international migration play an important role inthepopulation decline in Lithuania, but their relative importance differ from region to region. Depopulationleads to a falling population density and therefore to the shrinkage of social networks, especially in the rural areas. It has broad consequences for the life quality, causes pessimistic attitudes and threatens the futuredevelopment of the sparsely populated areas. There is little hope that the existing demographictrends will change in the nearest future. However, the analysed processes are usually perceived purely negatively, thoughitis not true in somerespects.
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