Report summarises findings from recent research on out-migration to inform the work of the ARFOR II programme

A hill that has many fields lined with trees, with sheep and houses scattered amongst the countryside.

A briefing report has been published by the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society (CWPS) at Aberystwyth University, outlining the key conclusions from two research workshops on the topic of out-migration that were held during November 2023. 

The workshops were organized by CWPS and Wavehill, as part of the work program of an 18-month research tender that aims to review and evaluate the work of the ARFOR II programme.

The ARFOR Program brings together the local authorities of Gwynedd, Anglesey, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire to develop programmes that aim to promote economic development across Wales’ western counties, thereby boosting the prospects of the Welsh language. 

It was established in 2019, following an initial investment of £2 million by the Welsh Government. In October 2022 it was confirmed that the Welsh Government would provide a further £11 million in order to finance the second phase of ARFOR, which will run until March 2025.

During the first workshop ‘ARFOR, out-migration and the Welsh language’ contemporary research from Wales was discussed, focusing on the topic of out-migration and to consider its relevance to the work of the ARFOR II programme. There were presentations from Dr Huw Lloyd-Williams (Wavehill), Professor Mike Woods (Aberystwyth University), Elen Bonner (Bangor University) and Dr Lowri Cunnington Wynn (Aberystwyth University).

In the second workshop ‘To stay, migrate or return? Placing the Welsh experience in a comparative context’ the discussion was broadened to consider research that has studied rural out-migration in a range of other European contexts. This resulted in presentations from Dr Caitríona Ni Laoire (University College Cork), Dr Rosie Alexander (University of the West of Scotland), Professor Tialda Haartsen (University of Groningen, Netherlands) and Dr Annett Steinfuhrer (Institute for Rural Affairs Thünen, Germany).

The report summarises the discussions that took place during the two workshops, focusing on the content of the research presentations delivered as well as the questions and comments that arose during the subsequent discussion periods. 

The report is organised on a thematic basis and it highlights a series of key themes that arose during the workshops:

  • Understanding out-migration and return migration: general consideration
  • The attitudes of young people regarding life in rural Wales                                
  • Typologies summarising attitudes to migration                                       
  • Factors that influence out-migration                                            
  • Factors that influence return migration
  • Understanding the motives of ‘stayers’    

You can read the report in full in PDF form here:


Dr Huw Lewis
Department of International Politics, 
Aberystwyth University

Dr Lowri Cunnington Wynn
Department of Law & Criminology, Aberystwyth University