The Geography of Rural Aging in a Regional Context, 1990–2008
The population in many advanced economies is growing older, and the distribution of the aging population is geographically uneven within these countries. Certain areas show high concentrations of older people, while other areas remain young. The analysis in this chapter examines population data from 1990 to 2008 at the county level within the United States to answer three research questions: which counties in rural America are aging most rapidly; what factors contribute to the geographic unevenness of rural aging; and how do these factors vary across space? As the baby boomers aged into their 60s during the most recent decade, many more nonmetropolitan counties had increasing elderly populations, and the Great Plains and Appalachia stand out as areas with consistently increasing older populations. However, due to an overall slowdown in nonmetropolitan migration in the 2000s, aging in place has become a more powerful driver of nonmetropolitan aging. This shift has distinct policy implications for rural communities.
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