The changing demographic and economic structure of nonmetropolitan areas in the 1970s

by Kevin F. McCarthy, Peter A. Morrison


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Identifies and quantifies new forces in addition to metropolitan sprawl that impel nonmetropolitan growth. Using county-level data files, the authors identified specialized growth-inducing activities: recreation, retirement, energy extraction, manufacturing, and government related activity. Nonmetropolitan areas are evolving along three dimensions: increasing accessibility to national metropolitan economy due to advances in transportation, industrial trends, and changes in American life-style (including earlier retirement, and increased orientation toward leisure activities). Multivariate analysis supports two major conclusions: (1) The accelerated migration into entirely rural countries signals a new, more complex spatial settlement pattern. (2) Previous growth advantages associated with manufacturing and government have diminished, and retirement and recreation have emerged as important growth-inducing activities. The analysis also raises some puzzles. The previously dominant role of search for economic opportunity as the original impetus to migration may have weakened.

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