ERIC Number: ED449942
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
The Rural Economy in a New Century.
Johnson, Thomas G.
Technological change, globalization, and localization have changed rural economies. They have increased labor productivity, reducing the importance of labor costs in location decisions; decreased the importance of distance; increased the importance of economies of scale; and increased the role of local conditions and choices in determining community prosperity. With farm income representing less than 2 percent of total income nationwide, rural communities are less dependent on farming. Increased industrialization of agriculture has weakened the ties between farms and their communities, with many nonfarm rural residents concerned about environmental effects, tax limitations, and the impact of in-migration to fill low-wage jobs. However, the growing spatial concentration of industrial agriculture is increasing the dependency of more isolated rural areas on particular firms. "Connected" rural areas are growing and diversifying due to in-migration of relatively affluent, educated people seeking the rural life style. Such communities face serious land-use issues as they become more suburban. On the other hand, isolated rural communities have stable or declining populations. Telecommunications infrastructure is inadequate and costly, yet businesses and schools are becoming increasingly dependent on the Internet. Tax bases are declining, leaving school districts and community services with inadequate financing. These factors suggest that agricultural policy cannot continue to serve as rural policy. With current policies, the divergence between connected and isolated rural communities will continue. A new, nonagricultural rural policy could take advantage of decreasing demand for proximate labor, decreasing costs of distance, and increasing demand for space and the rural lifestyle and help rural communities contribute to the national economy. (Includes discussion transcript.) (TD)
Descriptors: Agribusiness, Economic Development, Futures (of Society), Geographic Isolation, Government Role, Internet, Public Policy, Quality of Life, Rural Areas, Rural Development, Rural Economics, Social Change, Sociocultural Patterns
Full text at Web site: http://www.kc.frb.org/PUBLICAT/beyond/beyondmain.htm.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A