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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


“Rural America’s Stagnant Economic Performance: What’s the Role of Declining Dynamism?”

  • Rural America’s economic performance has generally lagged urban America’s performance for decades. This relative decline accelerated after 2000, and the economic expansion since the Great Recession largely missed much of rural America.
  • The US has experienced declining rates of dynamism since the 1970s, but this phenomenon is stronger in rural areas. For example, declining rates of new-firm startups hit rural America even harder. Rural-to-urban migration, the traditional route to prosperity for generations of rural residents, has also declined, leaving many rural American “trapped” in stagnating communities.
  • The lack of mobility in rural America suggests a role for place-based policies aimed at specific rural communities and regions, with the caveat that not every rural community can be “saved” from decline.

Access the full report on the American Enterprise Institute website.

Publication type: 
Journal article
Date published: 
Friday, February 28, 2020