Comparing Urban and Rural Quality of Life in the State of Washington

  • Benjamin L. MesserEmail author
  • Don A. Dillman
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 45)


In the USA, Washington is a highly urbanized state with about three quarters of its population residing in just seven of thirty-nine counties. In the 1970s, urban residents were less satisfied with their quality of community life (QOL) compared to residents in rural communities. This presented somewhat of a paradox because urban residents had better overall objective conditions, such as higher levels of education and income. In this chapter, QOL in Washington is revisited to determine if the urban–rural paradox has persisted and which factors influence perceived differences in QOL. Data on the objective indicators of QOL in Washington indicate that the gap has widened between urban and rural counties since the 1970s, in which urban counties have become more advantaged. The authors conducted the 2008 Washington Community Survey (WCS), a general public household survey, to obtain measures of subjective QOL in urban and rural communities, as well as demographic characteristics. Survey results show that the trend in perceived QOL has reversed, with urban residents more satisfied with the QOL in their community compared to rural residents in Washington. In addition, the authors identify several community- and individual-level characteristics that significantly influence the perceived QOL in each region and propose a way of crafting state policies that accommodates urban–rural differences in the state.


Child Care Cell Phone Public Transportation Urban Resident Religious Service 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.Social and Economic Sciences Research CenterWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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