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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Understanding farm generational renewal and its influencing factors in Europe

Coopmans, Isabeau; Dessein, Joost; Accatino, Francesco; Antonioli, Federico; Bertolozzi-Caredio, Daniele; Gavrilescu, Camelia; Gradziuk, Piotr; Manevska Tasevska, Gordana; Meuwissen, Miranda; Peneva, Mariya; Pettit, Andrea; Urquhart, Julie; Wauters, Erwin


Understanding the complex process of generational renewal (GR) in agriculture is essential for supporting the continuation of farming. This paper demonstrates how multiple factors, simultaneously and through their mutual interactions, influence GR and related individual decision-making processes. Results originated from 155 in-depth interviews performed on 85 farms in eleven European regions, and were triangulated with the literature. Our analysis, combining inductive and deductive approaches, revealed three conceptual phases (successor identity formation, farm succession process, and farm development) and fourteen factors important to understand GR. We elaborate how these factors interact, hence exert their impact on (one of) the phases in a complex and variable way. Implications highlight potential pitfalls and opportunities for attracting people into agriculture. Although policy-makers should be aware of their limited ability to affect GR by targeting the first phase, we propose some ideas that would complement current existing measures acting on the third phase.


Agriculture; Farm succession; Generational renewal; Young farmers; Decision-making; Europe

Published in

Journal of Rural Studies
2021, volume: 86, pages: 398-409

Authors' information

Coopmans, Isabeau
University of Leuven (KU Leuven)
Dessein, Joost
Ghent University
Accatino, Francesco
National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE)
Antonioli, Federico
University of Tuscia
Bertolozzi-Caredio, Daniele
Technical University of Madrid (UPM)
Gavrilescu, Camelia
Institute of Agricultural Economics
Gradziuk, Piotr
Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics
Meuwissen, Miranda
Wageningen University and Research
Peneva, Mariya
University of National and World Economy
Pettit, Andrea
Uppsala University
Urquhart, Julie
University of Gloucestershire
Wauters, Erwin
Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO)

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Business Administration

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