Human Geography of the Western Region
The Western Region has traditionally been a pole repulsif region. This means that there are more push factors rather than pull factors that drive the population away. Generally, it is younger people who migrate in search of employment opportunities and a better social life. This leaves behind an older, more traditional, workforce who tend to be less innovated. As a result the west of Ireland has a higher dependency ratio than any other part of Ireland. This means that the region has a higher percentage of people who are in the 65+ age bracket.
Aside from being pole repulsif, the region also has a low population density, with only 10% of the country's population, despite having over 20% of the land. The distribution of this population is also unbalanced as it is mainly focused on Galway city. In recent years the regions overall population has increased but rural depopulation has also increased. Almost 400,000 people now live in the Western Region.
Rural depopulation is resulting in the destruction of small rural communities. The cycle of rural depopulation can lead to a reduction in the provision of educational, medical and transport services. The National Development Plan (NDP) set up the LEADER programme. This programme attempts to generate employment in rural areas, to prevent further depopulation. The NDP also set up the Western Development Commission which attempts to promote the region's culture. The most likely way to reduce the problem of out-migration seems to be the development of a strong tourist sector, as tourism is a labour-intensive industry.