Age, Income, Rural, Life Course Theory, Rural South Dakota


This research note revisits the question of rural persistence, which was first brought to light in this journal by Redlin et al. (2010). We follow Redlin et al’s example by employing county-level data and seek to identify small towns that are surviving to explain their persistence. Our effort to replicate their results begins with the collection of the data anew, but we also include two additional states and incorporate a time dimension. By using Census data from 2000 only, Redlin et al. applied a static approach to test their hypothesis. In this study, we collect data from 1990 as well as 2000 to explore the time dimension of rural persistence. Our findings indicate that rural persistence is a dynamic rather than a static process. First, human capital systematically affects rural persistence. Second, changes in human capital affect rural persistence much more significantly than a stock of each measure at an earlier point in time. This result is encouraging; it suggests that no matter a community’s starting point in human capital, efforts towards community survival can be successful. Increases in any of our independent variables affect small town persistence more than the initial stock of any of them. Moreover, our results produce differences among the states, specifically Montana and Wyoming from the Dakotas, which indicate that future research efforts in rural persistence should explore political structure. Secondly, we suggest a grounded theory approach which develops data from a focused effort on a handful of rural communities.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.