Rural Land Tenure in the United States: A Socio-Economic Approach to Problems, Programs, and Trends

By Alvin L. Bertrand; Floyd L. Corty et al. | Go to book overview

characteristics, climate, settlement patterns, transportation routes, cultural values, physical barriers, historical accidents, and other factors affect land-use patterns.

Still others have employed the ecological concepts of dominance and subdominance to characterize metropolitan and regional communities, to delineate their vast networks of interrelationships, and to determine their ties of economic, social, and political integration and interdependence. Using these analytical tools, many have explored various demographic, economic, and social gradients of metropolitan and/or urban influence over outlying areas.

Theoretically, urban influence increases as cities grow in size. Moreover, urban influence increases as distance decreases, irrespective of city size. This also signifies that, with an increase in distance from urban areas, one finds more extensive land uses, larger farm units, a relative decline in farm tenancy, and a corresponding decline in the density of the farm population. Oddly enough, with increased distance from metropolitan centers there is an apparent increase in number of males to females and an increase in the birth rate among the farm population.

Conversely, as one moves from rural areas toward large market centers, land uses progressively intensify, farm units decrease in size, farm lands increase in value per acre, farm population density rises, and the birth rate falls. With nearness to urban centers, the level of adult education of the farm population improves, the proportion of females in the labor force increases, the level of living of the farm‐ operator's family is elevated, intensive crops make up a greater proportion of farm income, and the proportion of operators working off their farms one hundred days or more per year continues to increase.

Economists, ecologists, geographers, and sociologists continue to explore man's production and social activities, trying to ascertain precisely their spatial arrangements. Because of the large number of relevant variables, their complexity and diversity, and the rapidity of technological changes in agriculture, research findings are rather inconclusive on many points. No one has, as yet, conclusively established whether farm land uses and population characteristics differ because of climate, soil, nationality, nearness to cities, varying sizes of the metropolitan areas, or because of historical accident. On one thing they will agree, however, and that is the possibility that all of these factors are important and interrelated considerations in explaining farm tenure arrangements and rural population characteristics.

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