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A Brief on When and How Rural Economic Development Should be Done

  • Rickman, Dan S.

Reports of worrisome economic trends and deficiencies in rural areas typically spawn pronouncements on the need for rural economic development. Such reports often highlight: declining employment in primary economic sectors, high unemployment, a lack of jobs for young workers and a consequent aging of the population, overall population loss, closures of local businesses, declining per capita incomes relative to urban areas, inadequate education and healthcare, and high rates of poverty. What are seldom subsequently addressed, however, are issues of whether these can and should be remedied, and whether the state should play a role. In the following, I discuss these issues and recommend courses of action. The discussion and recommendations are based on what we know from academic research on rural areas (and regions more generally), including research I have done with long-time collaborator Mark Partridge. I first address the issue of whether a case can be made for state involvement in rural economic development efforts. This is followed by discussion of how to decide which areas to develop. I conclude by offering a few broad guidelines for state rural economic development strategies.

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

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Handle: RePEc:ags:jrapmc:132977
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  1. Partridge, Mark D. & Rickman, Dan S., 2003. "Do We Know Economic Development When We See It?," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 33(1), pages 17-39.
  2. Joshua Hojvat Gallin, 2004. "Net Migration and State Labor Market Dynamics," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 1-22, January.
  3. Christian Le Bas & Frédéric Miribel, 2005. "The agglomeration economies associated with information technology activities: an empirical study of the US economy," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 343-363, April.
  4. Klaus Desmet & Marcel Fafchamps, 2005. "Changes in the spatial concentration of employment across US counties: a sectoral analysis 1972--2000," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 261-284, June.
  5. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2005. "A Spatial Theory of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1464-1491, December.
  6. Rebecca M. Blank, 2005. "Poverty, Policy, and Place: How Poverty and Policies to Alleviate Poverty Are Shaped by Local Characteristics," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 28(4), pages 441-464, October.
  7. Jeffrey J. Yankow, 2003. "Migration, Job Change, and Wage Growth: A New Perspective on the Pecuniary Return to Geographic Mobility," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 483-516.
  8. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  9. Partridge, Mark D. & Rickman, Dan S., 2003. "The waxing and waning of regional economies: the chicken-egg question of jobs versus people," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 76-97, January.
  10. Andrew M. Isserman, 2005. "In the National Interest: Defining Rural and Urban Correctly in Research and Public Policy," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 28(4), pages 465-499, October.
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