Cornhusker Economics

Cornhusker Economics

Community Size and Resident Satisfaction:
Is There a Sweet Spot?

Members of the rural development industry have long debated the existence of a “Best” community size in which to invest resources successfully. Some places, it is argued, are simply too small to attract the businesses and population required for sustained development. Population trends of the last 50 years seem to support this notion, since every rural regions and communities have consistently lost population while larger places have grown by serving as regional trade centers.

By most development standards, those larger trade centers are doing quite well, adding jobs and housing to support a growing (even if slowly) labor force. They are also expanding consumer options in retail, entertainment and personal services while also making improvements in education and healthcare through the addition of both new structures and new technology. According to the Nebraska Rural Poll, resident satisfaction with such community amenities is indeed significantly higher in larger communities.

On the other hand, when responding to that same Rural Poll, residents of smaller communities report higher levels of satisfaction with the less commercial aspects of community life, such as their relationship with neighbors, personal safety, their natural environment and their free time. They are also more likely to rate their home community as friendly, trusting and supportive.

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2017 Cornhusker Economics

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