Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Monday, August 08, 2005

Rural College Grads Long For Home

- from the desk of Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs,

Rural college graduates migrating to urban locales, but long to come home

"One of the surest routes to the American Dream is a college education, but recent news accounts would suggest that this road to social mobility has created a rural 'brain drain,' with college grads leaving for hipper cities and more pleasant climates in such dramatic numbers that states such as Iowa will face severe shortages of educated workers within the next two decades,” Maria Kefalas and Patrick Carr wrote in a Des Moines Register column.

"As part of the MacArthur Foundation's Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood, we led a group of researchers to a farming community in northeastern Iowa to learn about how young Iowans are making their way into adulthood. As we talked about the twists and turns their lives had taken since high school, we found that it is simply a mistake to assume young people are rushing to exchange their 'Little House on the Prairie' upbringings for 'Sex in the City' lifestyles," continue Kefalas and Carr.

"One thing we realized from our study is that it is wrong to assume that youth who leave have no respect for their communities. They want their communities to thrive, and they are sad to leave them. Many told us they would like to come back, if they could," write Kefalas and Carr.

"What can small towns do to make it easier for them to stay? First, communities must cultivate the connection the young adults feel toward their community, and they must capitalize on its benefits: affordability, slower pace, and a strong civic life. Second, rather than focusing on the loss of "college-educated" singles, why not invest more aggressively in the hard-working and talented young people (many of whom have families and two-year college degrees) who opt to remain in the state?" they conclude.

for more information contact Jon Bailey,
or John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If small towns want to know what will interest young people in living in rurl communities, then ask some young people. I get tired of hearing from older people what young people want.


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