Source: KANSAS STATE UNIV submitted to
POPULATION CHANGE IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0206701
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
KS1001
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
W-1001
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Mar 1, 2006
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2007
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Kulcsar, L.
Recipient Organization
KANSAS STATE UNIV
(N/A)
MANHATTAN,KS 66506
Performing Department
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
50%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
50%
Applied
50%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
80360993080100%
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.
Project Methods
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.

Progress 03/01/06 to 09/30/07

Outputs
The first major topic was aging in place and retirement migration in the United States. One part of this project focused on rural retirement destinations, and the recreation of social networks of new migrants. I assembled a US county level database to examine the pattern of being and becoming a retirement migration destination county. The database included county level indicators from the 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses. The second part of this general theme was a comparative research of aging in place in the rural Midwest and Eastern Europe. This research identified the similarities and differences in population aging in the rural Midwest and Eastern Europe. My goal was to demonstrate how local socioeconomic characteristics, including development legacies and local cultures, influence the policy challenges of aging. The research questions addressed the basic sociodemographic trends of aging in the rural Midwest and Eastern Europe in the last 50 years; the social norms, roles and collective behavior patterns associated with aging; the nature of spatially uneven distribution of aging related to other socioeconomic characteristics; and the most important policy challenges induced by aging in these two social environments. In the given period, I worked on preparing the fieldwork in Kansas, conducting macro level analysis and directed the fieldwork in Bulgaria via my collaborators at Rousse University. The success of this research led to an elaboration of the topic of an untraditional retirement migration destination. The second major research activity was to work in the issue of natural resources, economic structure and population dynamics. The research focus was on the impact of global economic and demographic trends on the socioeconomic changes in Southwestern Kansas with a particular topical emphasis on migration and geographic emphasis on the High Plains Aquifer region. Migration processes have been fundamental components in the changing rural society over the past decades. Contemporary migration research shows that rural areas are more and more often targeted by international migration networks. While the US does have a long history of integration immigrants, immigration was largely limited to metropolitan gateway areas, and now many previously isolated rural places have to address community development issues due to the increasing proportion of foreign-born population. In many cases, such population change is linked with macro-level social and economic transformation and related to changing patterns of land use. Such change on the other hand is contingent on the control of land use and the local distribution of power over community development as well as the local accommodation of population growth, thus significant regional differences exist regarding such social environmental factors. The investigation of these trends focused on the economic, social, and ecological well-being of rural places, utilizing the concept of path-dependence in development to see if certain development decisions or initial characteristics tend to lock in particular development trajectories.

Impacts
The impact of the research on aging is very significant from the perspective of community development. With the dissemination of the results, small communities gain comprehensive understanding of aging as a major population trend, as well as its relation to economic development and social service provision. Policy actions were also discussed, and certain elements identified in becoming an attractive retirement migration destination, a feasible local development model for rural communities. The impact of the natural resource research topic is similar. Local community leaders in many cases rely on one-dimensional economic development based on one particular resource. By modeling the chain of economic activities and their implications in community development, they are able to understand better the future challenges and prepare for scenarios when the natural resources will not allow such economic policies that now are considered successful. This is especially important regarding the current media and development hype about biofuel production. Besides the applicability of this knowledge at the community level, both research topics contribute to the scholarship on aging and natural resources offering different conceptual perspectives and real-life examples.

Publications

  • Laszlo J. Kulcsar (2007) Baby Boomers and Immigrants on the Range: Population Trends in Kansas, Kansas Policy Review 29, pp. 2-9.
  • Laszlo J. Kulcsar, Benjamin C. Bolender and David L. Brown. (2008f) The Formation and Development of Rural Retirement Destinations. ch. 3 in D. L. Brown and N. Glasgow. Retirement Migration in the American Countryside. Dordrecht: Springer. [In press]


Progress 01/01/06 to 12/31/06

Outputs
The focus of my W1001 involvement in the given period was working on aging in place and retirement migration in the United States. One part of this project focused on rural retirement destinations, and the recreation of social networks of new migrants. I assembled a US county level database to examine the pattern of being and becoming a retirement migration destination county (a classification developed by the Economic Research Service at USDA). The database included county level indicators from the 1970, 1980, 19990 and 2000 censuses. This work was completed and will be a chapter in an edited volume about retirement migration from David Brown and Nina Glasgow at Cornell University. The book has not been published yet. The second part of this general them was a comparative research of aging in place in the rural Midwest and Eastern Europe. This research identified the similarities and differences in population aging in the rural Midwest and Eastern Europe. My goal was to demonstrate how local socioeconomic characteristics, including development legacies and local cultures, influence the policy challenges of aging. The research questions addressed the basic sociodemographic trends of aging in the rural Midwest and Eastern Europe in the last 50 years; the social norms, roles and collective behavior patterns associated with aging; the nature of spatially uneven distribution of aging related to other socioeconomic characteristics; and the most important policy challenges induced by aging in these two social environments. This project was also supported by two USRG seed grants (Fall 2005 and Spring 2006 competitions) as well as a Gerontology matching grant at K-State. The Eastern European fieldwork is supported by the research grant from the Echo Survey Institute in Hungary. In the given period, I worked on preparing the fieldwork in Kansas, conducting macro level analysis and directed the fieldwork in Bulgaria via my collaborators at Rousse University. The first publication from this research was in the Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy, focusing on aging in Kansas compared to the general aging trends of the United States. In the time period concerned in this report, this work on aging was in the analytical phase. I worked with the retirement migration database, as well as prepared the field visits in Kansas and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria and Romania). By the time this report is written, most of these activities have been completed. An additional research activity was to work in the issue of natural resources, economic structure and population dynamics. The research focus was on the impact of global economic and demographic trends on the socioeconomic changes in Southwestern Kansas with a particular emphasis on the High Plains Aquifer region.

Impacts
The impact of the research on aging is very significant from the perspective of community development. With the dissemination of the results, small communities gain comprehensive understanding of aging as a major population trend, as well as its relation to economic development and social service provision. Possible policy actions are also discussed. Aging is occurring whether they like it or not, and this research revealed that knowledge about this subject is insufficient to address the challenges. The impact of the natural resource research topic is similar. Local community leaders in many cases rely on one-dimensional economic development based on one particular resource. By modeling the chain of economic activities and their implications in community development, they are able to understand better the future challenges and prepare for scenarios when the natural resources will not allow such economic policies that now are considered successful. Besides the applicability of this knowledge at the community level, both research topics contribute to the scholarship on aging and natural resources offering different conceptual perspectives and real-life examples.

Publications

  • Laszlo J. Kulcsar and Benjamin C. Bolender (2006): Home on the Range: Aging in Place in Rural Kansas, Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy, Issue 2006.3