Survey Examines the Differences and Commonalities Between Urban and Rural Communities

A big new study by the Pew Research Center examines the ties that bind, and the differences that threaten to tear us apart.

2 minute read

May 23, 2018, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Gilpin County, Colorado

RaksyBH / Shutterstock

New analysis by the Pew Research Center written by a collection of six writers examines the trends that both unite and divide populations across urban and rural boundaries.

While the narratives of division are evident every day on every form of media, stories of the similarity between diverse populations are rare. So let's start with the commonalities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first common trait in in urban and rural areas is about the perception of their communities:

…many urban and rural residents feel misunderstood and looked down on by Americans living in other types of communities. About two-thirds or more in urban and rural areas say people in other types of communities don’t understand the problems people face in their communities. And majorities of urban and rural residents say people who don’t live in their type of community have a negative view of those who do. In contrast, most suburbanites say people who don’t live in the suburbs have a positive view of those who do.

The surprises begin to emerge when looking for common views on social issues and politics.

Rural and suburban adults are somewhat more rooted in their local areas, but substantial shares in cities, suburbs and rural areas say they have lived in their communities for more than 10 years. And about six-in-ten in each type of community say they feel at least some sense of attachment to their communities, though relatively few say they are very attached.

Residents of rural and urban areas also share similar economic concerns, concerns about drug addiction, and reasons for staying in their communities.

The article announcing the survey shares many more of its key findings. Emily Badger also picked up the news of the study, writing a detailed explanation of the research for The New York Times.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Pew Research Center

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