David L. Brown Calvin L. Beale
Diversity in Post-1970 Population Trends
Diversity is a necessary key to understanding current conditions in nonmetro America. Social, economic, and demographic conditions all vary greatly among communities outside of metro areas. As a consequence, broad generalizations about nonmetro trends and issues often conceal as much information as they provide. For example, there is much diversity in nonmetro areas today in their rate of population growth, and in the extent to which the direction of change represents a continuing trend or a reversal of trend. Diversity is also evident in the economic structure of nonmetro America. Dependence on agriculture as a primary source of employment and personal income has declined to the point where farming is the primary source of employment in only a minority of nonmetro counties. Manufacturing and services provide most jobs in the majority of cases. Population composition also varies widely among nonmetro counties, as reflected in age, ethnicity, and income differences ( Hines et al. 1975).
This chapter develops a framework for describing the diversity of sociodemographic conditions in nonmetro America. Key aspects of population change and composition and employment structure are identified and their geographic distribution is noted. The association between differences in sociodemographic composition and in post-1970 patterns of population change is analyzed. This allows for a description of the context within which nonmetro population change is occurring. An appendix to this chapter further explores the diversity of nonmetro America from the standpoint of geographically based areas.