• Depopulation;
  • village school;
  • wavelike birth patterns;
  • projected pupil developments;
  • school closure;
  • local society


During the past few years, the Dutch education system has been confronted with a sharp decline in the number of pupils. Especially in rural villages, inhabitants fear for the closure of their local primary school, which is perceived as a very negative development for local village life. This paper shows that the relatively sharp decline of the number of pupils in the next decade can be explained by a wavelike pattern in the past and projected number of pupils, resulting from the baby bust of the 1960s and 1970s. The relative decrease in pupils will almost be as strong in future depopulating (Anticipeer) regions as in present day declining (Topkrimp) regions. However, municipalities in the Topkrimp regions have many smaller primary schools which implies that they will have to deal with school mergers and closures in the near future. The paper concludes that long term effects of school closures on local society are not as devastating as often perceived.