Socioeconomic structural change in the European Alps:
The European Alps represent a primarily rural area long characterized by small-structured and subsistence-based mountain agriculture. Initially, industrialization took place only on a very small scale, despite the existence of natural resources, yet in the course of the 20th century, tourism largely changed the face of the European Alps. The particular course of the economic structural change also induced mountain-specific population changes with different spatiotemporal patterns. The mountain exodus, which proceeded from the western to the eastern part of the European Alps, was followed by regionally diverse socioeconomic adaptations among peasant-workers and smallholders engaged in the tourism sector; especially next to the urban centres, and in the northern European Alps in general, a far-reaching tertiarization could be observed. Today, however, the demand for labour force in the tourism sector is mainly covered by in-migrants. Both the Alpine valley floors and the high-mountain tourism centres have undergone profound urbanization processes, while peripheral areas, especially in the southern European Alps, are becoming deserted. Current structural changes are influenced by the second demographic transition (population ageing), new forms of migration (amenity migration, multilocality), as well as by climate change.