The Changing Demographic and Economic Structure of Nonmetropolitan Areas in the United States

by Kevin F. McCarthy, Peter A. Morrison

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Examines the renewed population growth in nonmetropolitan areas in the 1970s, which has shaken many of the presumptions that shaped the nation's regional development policies in the past. Two major conclusions stand out: The accelerated migration into entirely rural nonmetropolitan counties evidently signals the emergence of a new spatial pattern of settlement. And retirement and recreation have emerged as important growth-related (and probably growth-inducing) activities in those areas. Policies based on a single "standard" logic (e.g., encouragement of population centralization in urban nodes designated as growth centers) fit awkwardly with this new picture. A fresh approach to the design and evaluation of regional development programs is called for, together with continual monitoring and analysis of the experiences of diverse regions and of the people directly affected.

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