This research investigates how public institutions address intergenerational problems connected to rural land ownership placing this in the wider context of changing socio-economic rural profiles. It reviews the literature linking rural development to demographic change, examining why certain property regimes successfully adapt to aging and shrinking populations, whilst in others, large areas are effectively abandoned with all the accompanying negative consequences. Although the issues is a large problem in former socialist countries, it also affects countries that had, until recently, large agrarian populations. Critical drivers of successful adaption will be identified through a series of country reports that combine up to date statistical data, local research as well as interviews with state officials, professional associations, researchers and NGOs dealing with the topic. The following countries have been selected for case studies, each allowing for a range of variables to be explored: Portugal, Poland, Bosnia, Serbia, and Ukraine.