Nonmetropolitan America in Transition

By Amos H. Hawley; Sara Mills Mazie | Go to book overview

2
Residential Preferences in the United States

INTRODUCTION

In the history of population redistribution in the United States, the migration reversal of the 1970s, with rural areas gaining migrants from urban areas, is comparable to the dramatic reversal in fertility trends caused by the baby boom of the 1940s and 1950s. Taeuber ( 1972: 72) summarized the pre-1970 history: "the dominant geographic fact in the demography of the coterminous United States in the twentieth century has been metropolitan concentration." In the 1960s 2 million people moved to metro counties; by 1970, 148 million people lived there, but the majority within metro areas lived outside the central cities in the suburban ring. Although the deconcentration around central cities continued into the 1970s and suburban areas gained 5.4 million people at the expense of central cities, the long-term trend reversed. From March 1970 to March 1978, nonmetro areas enjoyed a net in-migration of just over 3 million people ( U.S. Bureau of the Census 1975, 1978).

This revival of population growth in nonmetro America has contributed to a resurgence of interest in the migration process. The decline since 1957 in fertility rates has also increased the importance of migration as a factor in community growth. Finally, alternative explanations for the migration turnaround, not easily explained by classical cost/benefit models, have postulated that personal preferences for community attributes may reinforce economic motivations. In this context, preference explanations for migration have been increasingly important and the last eight

____________________

This report is based on work supported by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, Project no. 1160 (journal article no. 9734), contributing to Western Regional Project W-118, the Center for the Study of Metropolitan Problems, NIMH, and the Economic Development Division, ESCS, USDA.

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