An Inside Look at the Decline of America's Rural Communities

Rural areas have been losing population for decades, creating what some are calling a "rural brain drain". According to this article, the hollowing out of these rural areas will have negative impacts beyond the borders of those small towns.
September 24, 2009, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Residents of rural America are more likely to be poor and uninsured than their counterparts in metropolitan areas, typically earning 80 percent what suburban and urban workers do.

The most dramatic evidence of the rural meltdown has been the hollowing out-that is, losing the most talented young people at precisely the same time that changes in farming and industry have transformed the landscape for those who stay. This so-called rural "brain drain" isn't a new phenomenon, but by the 21st century the shortage of young people has reached a tipping point, and its consequences are more severe now than ever before. Simply put, many small towns are mere years away from extinction, while others limp along in a weakened and disabled state."

To better understand the situation in these changing rural areas, sociologists Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas moved to rural Iowa to talk with people coming of age there and what they thought of their future prospects in town. They found that it is the adults in the community that are actually pushing the young people out, part of an unfortunate feedback loop.

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Published on Monday, September 21, 2009 in The Chronicle for Higher Education
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