SOCIOLOGY, ANTHROP & SOC WORK
Non Technical Summary
This research will help to understand what forces shape population change in rural areas. Population, both in terms of its size and composition, is the major determinant of the quality of life and development possibilities. This research will show how current demographic trends lead to particular development outcomes in rural areas. The groups that are more at risk (such as the elderly, racial or ethnic minorities, people in poverty) will also be investigated, and suggestions will be made for policy makers to improve their situation. This research also examines the role of population change in economic activities, including the provision of certain goods and services.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
1.Describe the recent redistribution of population between rural and urban areas, examine the dynamics of these changes (births, deaths, internal and international migration), and investigate their social and economic determinants, paying attention to areas of persistent out-migration, rapidly developing areas, and the urban-rural interface. 2.Examine the effects of changes in official classification schemes (including newly created micropolitan areas and urban clusters) on the validity of commonly used rural definitions (e.g., nonmetropolitan), and consequently on the changes in the size and composition of the rural population. 3. Analyze the growth and decline of at-risk populations in rural America, including the elderly, the working poor, immigrants, and racial and ethnic minorities. 4. Investigate the impacts of changes in population size and composition on local quality of life, economic security, and access to essential goods and services.
To describe the contemporary population dynamics in rural areas, and analyze their impact on social and economic processes, I will use aggregated statistics and various population estimate models. Building on past trends, these projections help to prepare for the future challenges in population change. Demographic dynamics should be embedded into the larger US context to understand how macroeconomic and societal trends shape subnational dynamics. I will follow the conceptual and theoretical approach of social demography, arguing that population dynamics are inseparable from their social context. Demographic research topics include changing population dynamics, the interrelation of social and demographic change, or population projections for various geographic units. It can be macro-level analysis of broad population trends, or a set of micro-level community case studies focusing on changing social organization. Hence, demographic research has a strong community
interface, making the cooperation with off-campus actors easier. The analysis of population change is vital for every community or broader geographic unit, because future development trends and challenges can be identified beforehand, giving time for planning. In the 20th century, the population of Kansas increased from 1.5 to about 2.7 million people. While its 80 percent rate seems solid, population increase in Kansas has always been below the US average. Part of the reason is that the US population growth mainly concentrated in metropolitan areas throughout the last hundred years. The population density of Kansas is 33 people per square mile, while the US average is 80, and due to the lack of large metropolitan areas its rate of urbanization was also below the American average. Rural areas, however, are very diverse hence detailed analysis is needed to understand the changes in settlement morphology and classification. Building on my earlier research, I will continue to examine how
reclassification schemes affect community development, using macro-level and individual socioeconomic indicators, based on US Census data and other collected information from federal and state authorities. Rural Kansas, just like many nonmetropolitan areas, will experience rapid aging and fundamental changes in population composition in the next decades. These trends, coupled with lower than average growth will pose significant development challenges for these areas. I propose making community case studies to understand the micro level dynamics of population change and what it brings to these communities in terms of socioeconomic development. This process will build strongly on the Kansas Population Center, which is part of the US Census Bureau State Data Center program in Kansas. The KPC as a repository of population statistics and methodological material is very suitable for such analytical work. Also, I am in favor of cross-disciplinary theoretical and methodological approach to
research, and plan to work with colleagues from other fields.