Rural Development Research Report No. (RDRR-49) 34 pp

September 1985

The Diverse Social and Economic Structure of Nonmetropolitan America

Effective rural development planning depends on facts and analysis based, not on national rural averages, but on the diverse social and economic structure of rural America. Programs tailored to particular types of rural economies may be more effective than a generalized program. This study identifies seven distinct types of rural counties according to their major economic base, presence of federally owned land, or population characteristics: (1) counties depending heavily on farming, (2) counties depending heavily on manufacturing, (3) mining counties with economic based principally on natural resources, (4) counties specializing in government functions, (5) persistent poverty counties, (6) Federal lands counties, and (7) retirement settlements. Because of these unique characteristics, government policies and economic trends may affect these county groups in quite different ways.

Keywords: Economic base, farming, Federal lands, government employment, manufacturing, mining, rural development, poverty, social conditions, structural diversity, retirement areas

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