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Are small communities at risk of population loss?


  • Yong Chen


  • Lena Etuk
  • Bruce Weber


Small communities almost universally worry about out-migration and the negative effects of out-migration on community viability. Using Oregon community-level data and applying the threshold estimation method of Hansen (Econometrica 68(3):575–603, 2000 ), we are able to identify population thresholds that distinguish small communities from their larger counterparts based on significant structural differences in factors affecting net migration. Our results suggest that smaller communities are more at risk of population decline than larger ones. After controlling for spatial spillovers from neighboring communities, the average net migration rate is 3 % in the larger communities (roughly above 5,000 population), 2 % in the mid-sized communities (roughly between 1,250 and 5,000) and $$-3$$ % in the smallest communities (roughly less than 1,250). Other things equal, geographic isolation from large cities and low wage rates provide some protection from net out-migration for the smallest communities, but even for the smallest places, a larger population base lowers the risk of net out-migration. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Yong Chen & Lena Etuk & Bruce Weber, 2013. "Are small communities at risk of population loss?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 51(2), pages 343-353, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:anresc:v:51:y:2013:i:2:p:343-353 DOI: 10.1007/s00168-012-0541-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hansen, Bruce E., 1999. "Threshold effects in non-dynamic panels: Estimation, testing, and inference," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 345-368, December.
    2. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
    3. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. "The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
    4. Dennis Epple & Holger Sieg, 1999. "Estimating Equilibrium Models of Local Jurisdictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 645-681, August.
    5. Bruce E. Hansen, 2000. "Sample Splitting and Threshold Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(3), pages 575-604, May.
    6. Mark Ferguson & Kamar Ali & M. Rose Olfert & Mark Partridge, 2007. "Voting with Their Feet: Jobs versus Amenities," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(1), pages 77-110.
    7. Hansen, Bruce E, 1996. "Inference When a Nuisance Parameter Is Not Identified under the Null Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(2), pages 413-430, March.
    8. Maureen Kilkenny, 2010. "Urban/Regional Economics And Rural Development," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 449-470.
    9. Thomas R. Harris & Kalyan Chakraborty & Lijuan Xiao & Rangesan Narayanan, 1996. "Application Of Count Data Procedures To Estimate Thresholds For Rural Commercial Sectors," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 26(1), pages 75-88, Summer.
    10. Katherine Curtis White, 2008. "Population change and farm dependence: Temporal and spatial variation in the U.S. great plains, 1900–2000," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(2), pages 363-386, May.
    11. Jeanty, P. Wilner & Partridge, Mark & Irwin, Elena, 2010. "Estimation of a spatial simultaneous equation model of population migration and housing price dynamics," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 343-352, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yong Chen & David J. Lewis & Bruce Weber, 2016. "Conservation Land Amenities And Regional Economies: A Postmatching Difference-In-Differences Analysis Of The Northwest Forest Plan," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 373-394, June.

    More about this item


    O18; R11;

    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes


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