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Rural Population Growth, 1950-1990: The Roles of Human Capital, Industry Structure and Government Policy

  • Huang, T.
  • Orazem, Peter
  • Wohlgemuth, Darin

A human capital investment model of migration is applied to data on changes in county working- age populations. Counties having more highly educated populations grew more slowly. While human capital raises rural incomes, this effect is swamped by the higher returns to human capital in urban markets. This leads to "brain drain" from rural areas. Other results include: 1) Populations grow more rapidly in rural counties that have a diversified employment base. 2) Farm population grows faster (or declines more slowly) in counties with relatively high farm income, and nonfarm populations grow faster in counties with relatively high nonfarm income. However 3) there is no evidence of positive spillover income effects across the farm and nonfarm sectors: higher farm incomes lead to slower nonfarm population growth and vice versa. 4) Measured county government services financed by local taxes or debt have neutral or negative effects on population growth.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 5061.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in American Journal of Agricultural Economics, August 2002, vol. 84, pp. 615-627
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:5061
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
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  1. Timothy R. Wojan, 2000. "The Composition of Rural Employment Growth in the “New Economy”," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(3), pages 594-605.
  2. Romana Khan & Peter F. Orazem & Daniel M. Otto, 2001. "Deriving Empirical Definitions of Spatial Labor Markets: The Roles of Competing Versus Complementary Growth," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 735-756.
  3. Kislev, Yoav & Peterson, Willis, 1982. "Prices, Technology, and Farm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 578-95, June.
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  5. Micha Gisser & Alberto D�vila, 1998. "Do Farm Workers Earn Less? An Analysis of the Farm Labor Problem," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(4), pages 669-682.
  6. Gyourko, Joseph & Tracy, Joseph, 1991. "The Structure of Local Public Finance and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 774-806, August.
  7. Mieszkowski, Peter & Zodrow, George R, 1989. "Taxation and the Tiebout Model: The Differential Effects of Head Taxes, Taxes on Land Rents, and Property Taxes," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1098-1146, September.
  8. 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.
  9. Mincer, Jacob, 1978. "Family Migration Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 749-73, October.
  10. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, June.
  11. Christopher Fawson & Dawn Thilmany & John E. Keith, 1998. "Employment Stability and the Role of Sectoral Dominance in Rural Economies," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(3), pages 521-533.
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