Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America

Following are excerpts from a recent USDA Economic Research Service study that looked at the movement of baby boomers, which shows that rural and small towns will gain. Baby boomers account for a large percentage of our population. What they do will impact many.

Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America
By John Cromartie and Peter Nelson

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-79) 36 pp, August 2009

The size and direction of migration patterns vary considerably by age group, and baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have entered a stage in which their migration patterns will increase the population of rural and small-town settings. Many older boomers are ending childrearing duties, changing housing preferences, and pondering early retirement options. Quality-of-life considerations are beginning to replace employment-related factors in decisions about when to move and where to live.

Baby boomers have already demonstrated more of an affinity for moving to rural and small-town destinations than older or younger cohorts. They led a short-lived rural “rebound” in the early 1990s despite being at an age when career-oriented motivations strongly influence migration decisions. They are now poised to significantly increase the population of 55-75 year olds in rural and small-town America through 2020, with major social and economic implications for their chosen destinations.

Regardless of all but the most dire future economic and housing market conditions, baby boom migration will increase the overall size of rural America’s retirement-age population. Assuming a midrange projection scenario and including the effects of migration, the rural and small-town population of 55-75 year olds will increase two-thirds, from 8.6 million to 14.2 million between 2000 and 2020. The rate of growth for this age group in non-metro areas has likely tripled to 31 percent during the current decade, compared with that of the 1990s, and will remain close to 30 percent in the next decade. Without net migration, the rate of growth for this age group would be cut nearly in half to just 18 percent in this decade and 15 percent during 2010-20.

The entire study can be read here – http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR79/

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