Continuity and Change in Rural Migration Patterns, 1950–1995*


  • *

    A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the annual meetings of the Association of American Geographers, held in Boston, MA on March 28, 1998. This research was supported by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through a cooperative agreement, and by the Department of Sociology, Loyola University of Chicago. Support was also provided by the Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, through a grant from the Center for Population Research of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. The assistance of Tim Heaton in the log-linear analysis is gratefully acknowledged.


Abstract During the past several decades, rural America has experienced turbulent demographic change. We examine rural age-specific migration data for 1950 to 1995 to ascertain whether the numerous economic, social, and technological factors buffeting nonmetropolitan America have altered migration patterns across age groups and types of counties. Both continuity and change are evident in the analysis. We find differentiation in the migration profiles of certain specialized types of rural counties, as well as temporal variability from decade to decade. No clear longitudinal trend in migration patterns is present, however. In fact, an underlying continuity in age-specific trends has endured through good times and bad.