Rural areas have experienced major economic, social, demographic and cultural transformations in recent decades. Rurality is no longer synonymous with agriculture, and heightened interactions between rural and urban areas have had a significant impact on the identities of their populations and the characteristics that define those territories. In Latin America and the Caribbean, however, these transformations have remained relatively invisible to statistics and public policy because of the prevalence of dichotomous and static approaches to the measurement and characterization of rural areas.
This study presents new methods for defining and categorizing rurality and analyses their public policy implications. A redefinition that recognizes the diversity and wealth of rural areas offers opportunities for the design of innovative rural development public policies that could accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.