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Coming home to rural America: demographic shifts in the Tenth District

Maria Akers and Jason Henderson

Economic Review, 2009, vol. 94, issue Q III, 65-90

Abstract: Sweeping demographic shifts are challenging the growth of many rural communities in the Tenth District. The retirement of the baby boomers, coupled with the exodus of young adults, threatens to leave rural areas with a rapidly aging population and a shrinking local workforce. The strength of these demographic changes could hinder economic growth for many rural communities in the future. ; Rural communities in the district, however, are quietly enjoying another demographic shift?a return of middle-aged residents to rural places. This shift may be a promising sign for economic growth and wealth generation. Rural areas, of course, must continue to face the challenges of an aging population and the loss of young adults. But the in-migration of middle-aged residents and their families could raise a new question for economic development. Instead of simply trying to stem the tide of young adult out-migration, should rural areas focus more on the recent trend of middle-aged families coming home to rural America? ; Henderson and Akers discuss the economic implications of aging populations and migration patterns on rural Tenth District communities. They find that while rural communities in the Tenth District will struggle with aging populations and the loss of young adults, enhancing quality-of-life amenities appear to be a way for rural communities to benefit from the return of middle-aged families.

Date: 2009
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