More than half of young rural people have given up on cultural practices due to lack of mobility. And for good reason, since they spend on average more than 2.5 hours in transport every day: mobility is a source of territorial divide, according to a study published Thursday by the Terram Institute and Chemins d’avenirs. Young rural people represent a quarter of 15-29 year olds in France. Nearly half (48%) want to stay in the countryside, compared to 41% of young urban people, and the higher the standard of living, the stronger the desire to stay. But moving to the countryside appears to be a major difficulty.

Very dependent on the car, they consider themselves “poorly served” by all modes of public transport, notably the bus (53%) and the train (62%), compared to respectively 14% and 24% for young urban residents. People over 18 from very sparsely populated municipalities spend an average of 2 hours 37 minutes per day on transport, or 42 minutes more than young urban residents. “These travel times are added to study days, drastically reducing their free time for other activities,” observe the authors.

The monthly transport budget amounts on average to 528 euros for young rural people (including 461 euros for the individual vehicle), compared to 307 euros for young urban people. This distance has a significant impact on daily life and access to services since more than half (57%) of young people from very sparsely populated rural areas have had to give up practicing cultural activities due to travel constraints, compared to 40% of urban youth.

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The effects of this distance are also evident when looking for a job, with 38% of young rural people looking for work having already given up on a job interview due to travel difficulties. The survey also reveals that young rural people are more affected by mental health problems: 76% say they have experienced intense periods of “stress, nervousness or anxiety”, and 35% have had suicidal thoughts.

Obstacles to mobility also fuel the National Rally vote. In the first round of the 2022 presidential election, 39.6% of young rural people voted for Marine Le Pen, more than double that of their urban counterparts (18.1%). The study was carried out by the Terram institute, a think tank dedicated to the study of territories, with the Ifop institute and the Chemins d’avenir association. A sample of more than 2,000 rural young people and a second of more than 2,000 young people representative of the French population aged 15 to 29, half of whom are urban, were interviewed from March 1 to 8, 2024.