Through economic growth to the viability of rural space
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Rural areas as a living space for the population has been increasingly explored in official documents of various EU institutions and in research topics. Both the documents and the research papers stress the necessity to enhance and maintain the viability of rural areas. The viability of rural areas is ensured by employment opportunities and readiness of residents for active and innovative economic activities. The paper presents an analysis of vertical and horizontal changes in entrepreneurship in the period of 2009–2015 and their effect on changes in the living space of the analysed territories in Latvia’s regions. The processes in administrative territories of regions, municipalities were analysed, as the life of residents is influenced not only by national policies but also by on-going processes in the administrative territories of local governments. The data of LURSOFT for the period of 2009–2015 and the Central Statistical Bureau for the period of 2013–2015 were used as the sources of information. The data were processed by quantitative (growth) and qualitative (structural change) statistical analysis methods. The Eurostat methodology and the methodology developed by the authors for classification of industries were employed for the analysis of structural changes in the national economy. The development level-rate matrix method was used for an in-depth examination of the research results. The research results showed that, in spite of the global economic crisis, both vertical growth and positive horizontal change took place in the national economy of all five regions of Latvia, nine cities of national significance as well as all 110 municipalities that composed the rural areas of Latvia. The authors arrived at the conclusion that, first, performance trends contributing to economic growth were observed in the rural space; second, there was no direct causal relationship between the population density and economic activity in the rural territories; third, the economic growth in the rural territories was greatly affected by the quality of local governance and local community residents’ readiness for active, innovative and inclusive activities.