Bridging rural-urban divides
Social and economic divides between rural and urban communities in the United States are growing, according to this interesting article on Friday in the Wall Street Journal.
Over the last 30+ years, the population of large metropolitan areas has increased by roughly 40% (to 99.5 million). By contrast, rural areas and small towns have scarcely grown, as young adults leave for college or work and don't return, and fewer people leave cities for rural areas. Rural areas are now at risk of natural decrease (i.e. more deaths than births).
Demographic differences (i.e. levels of diversity in religion, ethnicity, and national origin) have also increased, as immigrants seek the familiarity of urban areas, where 22.3% of the population is foreign-born, compared to only 3.8% of the population in rural areas.
Education and income levels between urban and rural areas are also diverging. In large metropolitan areas, where 34% of the population age 25 or older have bachelor's degrees or more, the median household income is $56,220 (in the suburbs, it's $68,240). In rural areas and small towns, where only 18% have degrees, household income is $43,505. Thanks to the stock market boom and the resurgence of home prices in urban areas, mean family net worth in metropolitan areas has doubled since 1989, to nearly $800,000. In rural areas, mean family net worth has scarcely increased during that time period and remains below $300,000.