This study is a product of research on aging in place in the rural2 Midwest. Here we take the perspective of social demography to investigate long-term trends of aging in rural Kansas. Using county level historical statistics and in-depth analysis of the 2000 Census, we put these trends into the context of aging in the United States, and present a statistical analysis of aging and economic development. The data for this study come from various sources at the U.S. Census Bureau and the Economic Research Service (E.R.S.) division of the U.S.D.A. We also address the community development challenges posed by aging in place. This latter subject will be presented as an overview since our current research activity is conducting case studies addressing community development issues in greater depth.

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1. This research was supported by the Fall 2005 Kansas State University Small Research Grant program. We'd like to acknowledge the help of the Kansas Population Center in hosting this research project.

2. It has to be noted that there are two parallel urban-rural classification systems in the US. The Census Bureau uses a place-based system, differentiating between urban and rural places. The Office of Management and Budget uses a county-based system, differentiating between metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. This latter scheme is used by most researchers, however in many publications researchers use the term “rural” as a synonym for non-metropolitan. In this study, the terms rural and non-metropolitan are used interchangeably.

3. The U.S. Census Bureau considers the following states to be part of the West North Central Division: South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, and Iowa.

4. Peter Laslett, "Necessary Knowledge: Age and Aging in the Societies of the Past" Pages 4-79 In: Aging in the Past: Demography, Society and Old Age by D. Kertzner and P. Laslett (eds.). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

5. Glenn Fuguitt, David L. Brown, and Calvin Beale, Rural and Small Town America. (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1989).

6. Kenneth Johnson and Calvin Beale, "Nonmetro Recreation Counties. Their Identification and Rapid Growth" Rural America 17 (2002):12-19.

7. Nina Glasgow and David L. Brown “Social Integration Among Older In-Migrants in Nonmetropolitan Retirement Destination Counties: Establishing New Ties.” Pages 177-196 In: Population Change and Rural Society by William Kandel and David L. Brown (eds.). Dordrecht: Springer, 2005.

8. Richard Rathge, and Paula Highman, "Population Change in the Great Plains. A History of Prolonged Decline." Rural Development Perspectives 13 (1996).

9. Lisa Hetzel and Anetta Smith, "The 65 Years and Over Population: 2000". Census 2000 Brief, Washington DC: US Census Bureau, 2001.

10. Donald Adamchak, Len Bloomquist, Kent Bausman and Rashida Qureshi, "Retail/Wholesale Trade Employment Directly Related to Population Change in the Nonmetro Great Plains." Rural Development Perspectives 13 (1998): 46-51.

11. K. S. Markides, D. M. Timbers and J.S. Osberg, "Aging and health: A longitudinal study. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 3 (1984): 33-49.

12. Donald Cowgill, "Aging and Modernization: A Revision of the Theory" Pages 123-146 In: Late Life: Communities and Environmental Policy by J. Gubrium (ed.). Springfield: Charles Thomas, 1979.

13. Nina Glasgow, "Older Rural Families" Pages 86-96 In: Challenges for Rural America in the Twenty-First Century by David L. Brown and Louis E. Swanson (eds.). The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 2003.

14. W. Leutz, R Abrahams and J. Capitman, "Administration of eligibility for community long-term care" The Gerontologist 33 (1993): 92-104.

15. J. H. Schulz, The economics of aging. (Westport: Auburn House, 2001).

16. S. E. Rix, "The labor market for older workers." Generations 26 (2002): 25-30.

17. J. A. Kutpers and V. L. Bengston, "Social breakdown and competence: A model of normal aging" Human Development 16 (1973): 181-201.

18. Glasgow, 2003, Ibid.

19. R. T. Coward, "Aging in the rural United States." Pages 161-178 In: North American elders: United States and Canadian perspectives by E. Rathborne-McCuan and B. Havens (eds.). New York: Greenwood, 1988.

20. Kenneth Johnson and Richard Lathge, “Agricultural dependence and changing population in the Great Plains.” Pages 197-218 In Population Change and Rural Society, by William A. Kandel and David L. Brown (eds.). Dodrecht: Springer, 2006.

21. See Calvin L. Beale, The revival of population growth in nonmetropolitan America (Washington DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1975).

22. In this table, the rural and urban terms refer to the Census Bureau definition.

23. By 2006, due to changes in the classification system, the number of metropolitan counties increased to 17.

24. This is only one aspect of this complex change. Employment in the meat processing industry is increasingly based on minority labor, mostly Hispanics (see William Kandel and Emilio Parrado. “Restructuring of the US Meat-processing Industry and New Hispanic Migrant Destinations.” Population and Development Review 31 (2005): 447-471.). This has important implications in community development in these places.