Demographic Forces Reshaping Small Communities in the 1980s

by Peter A. Morrison, Kevin F. McCarthy


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This Note surveys demographic and socioeconomic changes that are reshaping small communities, and related policy issues. Small communities now enjoy greater autonomy, but at the cost of reduced federal aid. Communities freed from federal mandates must now manage their own growth or decline. A rural development strategy should assist state and local governments in finding answers to the following questions these governments now face: How much local population growth is desirable? Are growth and its effects predictable? How much will growth cost? Who should pay for it, and how? How can local facilities and services be scaled down, how are cutbacks to be decided, and which services are to be reduced for whom? What type of economic growth is "best" in an area? How should communities equip themselves to plan for, and adjust to, change?

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