• Analytical hierarchy process;
  • Castile and Leon (Spain);
  • countryside;
  • individuals’ opinion;
  • rural development policy;
  • social welfare
  • R52;
  • R58;
  • H41


We propose an approach to conceptualise ‘rural multifunctionality’ and further investigate peoples’ preferences for it. We use an opinion survey concerning individual preferences for several functions that rural spaces should provide. We use the analytical hierarchy process approach to assess the relative importance of each function. The results show how the social weightings of these functions are balanced, confirming that society demands truly multifunctional rural territories. Nonetheless, differences are found in individual preferences. We explore the demographic and socioeconomic determinants of these individual preferences, paying particular attention to the importance of heterogeneity using seemingly unrelated regressions. In short, results from this research could be employed as a useful informative element for the future development of public policies related to rural spaces.