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Towards a Rural Development Policy: Lessons from the United States and Canada

  • Partridge, Mark D.
  • Olfert, M. Rose
  • Ali, Kamar

Despite the large sums of money spent to ostensibly support rural areas since the 1930s, a framework for assessing U.S. and Canadian rural policy is conspicuously absent, and thus there is little basis for assessing effectiveness of public policy and public expenditures in this area. The purpose of this paper is to propose a framework based on: 1) broad-based policy ob-jectives; 2) a small number of measurable targets that reflect these objectives; and 3) evaluation based on the latest methodological and data advances. We provide an overview of policies and programs in the U.S. and Canada that have been described as rural policy. Using basic descriptive evidence we show that to date the purported rural policy in both countries has generally failed to meet any broad-based objectives. We suggest that successful rural policy is primarily place-based, rather than being captured by tangential objectives such as support for particular sectors or initiatives such as environmental protection. We conclude by noting that government ministries that administer place-based (rural) policy should not have a sector-based orientation—rural policy should be removed from USDA and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

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Article provided by Mid-Continent Regional Science Association in its journal Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy.

Volume (Year): 39 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 ()

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Handle: RePEc:ags:jrapmc:132430
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  1. Mark D. Partridge & Dan S. Rickman & Kamar Ali & M. Rose Olfert, 2008. "The Geographic Diversity of U.S. Nonmetropolitan Growth Dynamics: A Geographically Weighted Regression Approach," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(2), pages 241-266.
  2. Mark D. Partridge & Dan S. Rickman & Kamar Ali & M. Rose Olfert, 2008. "Lost in space: population growth in the American hinterlands and small cities," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(6), pages 727-757, November.
  3. Guido M. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2008. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 14251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Thomas G. Johnson, 1997. "Policy Conundrums in Rural North America: Discussion," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1527-1529.
  5. David Freshwater, 1997. "Farm Production Policy Versus Rural Life Policy," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1515-1524.
  6. Stephan J. Goetz & David L. Debertin, 1996. "Rural Population Decline in the 1980s: Impacts of Farm Structure and Federal Farm Programs," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(3), pages 517-529.
  7. Berkeley Hill & David Blandford, 2008. "Where the US and EU Rural Development Money Goes," EuroChoices, The Agricultural Economics Society, vol. 7(Special I), pages 28-29, 04.
  8. Elena G. Irwin & Kathleen P. Bell & Nancy E. Bockstael & David A. Newburn & Mark D. Partridge & JunJie Wu, 2009. "The Economics of Urban-Rural Space," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 435-459, 09.
  9. Cynthia Bansak & Steven Raphael, 2001. "Immigration reform and the earnings of Latino workers: Do employer sanctions cause discrimination?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 275-295, January.
  10. Kelly D. Edmiston, 2004. "The Net Effects of Large Plant Locations and Expansions on County Employment," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 289-320.
  11. Georgeanne M. Artz & Peter F. Orazem & Daniel M. Otto, 2007. "Measuring the Impact of Meat Packing and Processing Facilities in Nonmetropolitan Counties: A Difference-in-Differences Approach," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(3), pages 557-570.
  12. Parker, Timothy S., 2007. "Policy Options for a Changing Rural America," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, May.
  13. Partridge, Mark D. & Rickman, Dan S. & Ali, Kamar & Olfert, M. Rose, 2009. "Agglomeration spillovers and wage and housing cost gradients across the urban hierarchy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 126-140, June.
  14. Mark Partridge & Ray D. Bollman & M. Rose Olfert & Alessandro Alasia, 2007. "Riding the Wave of Urban Growth in the Countryside: Spread, Backwash, or Stagnation?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 83(2), pages 128-152.
  15. Maureen Kilkenny & Mark D. Partridge, 2009. "Export Sectors and Rural Development," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 910-929.
  16. C. Bansak & S. Raphael, . "Immigration Reform and the Earnings of Latino Workers: Do Employer Sanctions Cause Discrimination?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1181-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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