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Population Change in The Countryside: What Does It Mean for Rural Iowa?. J. Gordon Arbuckle, Jr. Extension Sociology Andrea Rich Graduate Research Assistant, Sociology. Photo courtesy of USDA/NRCS. Overview. What are the population trends? What are some of the factors driving change?

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population change in the countryside what does it mean for rural iowa

Population Change in The Countryside: What Does It Mean for Rural Iowa?

J. Gordon Arbuckle, Jr.

Extension Sociology

Andrea Rich

Graduate Research Assistant, Sociology

Photo courtesy of USDA/NRCS

overview
Overview
  • What are the population trends?
  • What are some of the factors driving change?
  • What might those changes mean for rural Iowa, Extension?
some definition of terms
Some definition of terms…

Urban:

Urbanized areas: urban center with greater than 50,000 people. Core with 1000 people/square mile, and periphery with 500 people/square mile

Urban clusters: centers with between 2,500 and 50,000 people

Rural:

Everyone who does not reside in urban areas

some definition of terms1
Some definition of terms…

Metropolitan statistical areas:

Core counties containing urbanized areas

Outlying counties where 25%+ workers commute to core counties

Nonmetro:

Micropolitan areas: counties that have urban centers of 10,000 people or more

Noncore counties: all the rest

Note: Metropolitan counties have many rural residents!

what s behind these population shifts
What’s behind these population shifts?
  • Farm population: continuing decline
  • Rural non-farm population increasing
    • Agricultural jobs disappear, but rural residents remain in communities
    • Shrinking of small towns increases non-farm population: under 2,500 pop. is rural non-farm
    • Newcomers moving into rural communities
what s behind these population shifts1
What’s behind these population shifts?
  • Shifting Social Values: Push and Pull
    • Urban and suburban living no longer epitome of American dream
    • “Rural living” drawing people back to country
  • Transportation & Commuting
    • Improved highways and vehicles facilitate commuting
    • The line between urban and rural is blurred as more people travel to metro areas to work
pull factors amenities
Pull Factors: Amenities
  • Amenities can be defined as assets that attract residents and visitors
    • Natural Amenities
    • Cultural Amenities
  • Quality of life considerations rival economic factors in decisions to stay in, migrate to rural areas
natural amenities
Natural Amenities
  • Water, Mountains, Forests, Sunshine
    • Coastlines
    • Parks and other outdoor recreation opportunities
    • Resorts
  • Wilderness and open spaces are important draws
  • Areas with uncommon natural beauty growing fastest

Courtesy of FreeNaturePictures

natural amenities1
Natural Amenities
  • In the Midwest, lakes, rivers, trails, parks are the primary natural amenities
  • Natural amenities contribute to growth in population, economic activity, new housing
  • People are willing to make economic sacrifices in order to live in places rich in natural amenities
cultural amenities quality of life
Cultural Amenities: Quality of Life
  • Americans feel a sentimental tie to “the rural”
    • Historic buildings: “Main Street”
    • Agrarian roots of nation: Farm landscapes
  • Quality of life key factor
    • Safety, quiet, slower pace of life, lower housing costs
  • Rural/small town characteristics (social capital)
    • Residents traditionally have strong ties to their community and to one another
    • Rural communities have increased density of acquaintanceship-people know one another across generations
    • Neighborliness: rural residents willing to pitch in when they see a need
commuting
Commuting
  • Communities within “commuter zones” adjacent to metro areas are growing
  • Means by which long time residents can remain in their community
  • Allows urban/suburban residents to move to rural areas
  • Increased connections between rural and urban areas
positive impacts of newcomers
Positive Impacts of Newcomers
  • Social Diversity
    • Different perspectives and experiences
    • Can bring new ideas to communities
    • Focus on preserving cultural and natural resources
  • Economic Benefits
    • Often invest in new enterprises
    • Networks that extend outside of the receiving community can bring economic resources and expertise
    • Transfer of resources from urban to rural areas
potential negative impacts of newcomers
Potential Negative Impacts of Newcomers
  • Weakened social solidarity
    • Possible insider/outsider mentality
    • Social relationships take time to develop
  • Newcomers may be unprepared for rural life: expectations vs. reality
    • Odors associated with livestock
    • Self-provision of water, sewer
    • Fewer services available
potential negative impacts of newcomers1
Potential Negative Impacts of Newcomers
  • Newcomers’ expectations and objectives may clash with those of long-time residents
    • preservationism vs. property rights
    • Environmentalism vs. production
    • Increased farmland prices
  • Increases in population can lead to degradation of conditions and resources that attracted newcomers
case study cass county1
Case Study: Cass County
  • 2006 Population : 14,124
  • Population has decreased, but rural non-farm population has increased
  • Low farm income dependence
    • Less than 10% of income earned in the county comes from farm sources
case study cass county2
Case Study: Cass County
  • Key Informant Interviews
    • School Officials
    • Real Estate Agents
    • Economic DevelopmentOfficials
commuting1
Commuting
  • 84% of Cass County labor force lives in the county
    • Large draws from Pottawattamie & Audubon County
  • 19% of residents commute
    • 541 to Omaha/Council Bluffs
    • 113 to Des Moines
    • 209 to Montgomery County
cultural amenities
Cultural Amenities
  • Small town feel
    • Safety
    • Relationships with neighbors
    • Vounteerism/community pride
  • Services
    • YMCA
    • Hospital
    • Ease of retirement
  • Low Cost of living
natural amenities2
Natural Amenities
  • Living in the Country
    • Peace
    • Privacy
    • Opportunity for animals
      • 4-H!
  • Natural Amenities
    • Not mentioned in interviews
initial findings who s moving
Initial Findings: Who’s moving?
  • In 2005, 65% of Cass County residents lived in the same home as 2000
  • Economic differences affect how welcomed newcomers felt
  • Informants believed many newcomers were people moving back rather than moving in
opportunities associated with new rural rebound
Opportunities Associated with new “Rural Rebound”
  • Transfer of income, assets to rural areas
  • New entrepreneurship ideas and opportunities
    • Services, restaurants, shops
  • Increased demand for local food systems
    • New producers, products
    • Farmers markets
    • Agritourism
opportunities associated with new rural rebound1
Opportunities Associated with new “Rural Rebound”
  • New residents can provide impetus for further development of natural, cultural amenities
    • Bike trails, natural areas
    • Historic preservation
  • Acreage landowners
    • Interest in wildlife, habitat

improvement

    • Alternative agricultural

activities

things to consider
Things to consider…
  • Active development of cultural and natural amenities effective means of retaining residents, attracting newcomers, visitors
  • As urban areas grow, so does desire to move to/return to rural areas: people will continue to move in
  • Newcomers often have different expectations, can lead to conflict
    • Environment: consumption vs. production
  • Fuel prices and commuting, telecommuting?