CARI: Center for Applied Rural Innovation

 

Date of this Version

August 2006

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Published by the Center for Applied Rural Innovation, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Copyright © 2006 by R. Vogt, R. Cantrell, B. Johnson, and A. Tomkins.

Abstract

Population loss in rural Nebraska communities has been a concern, but many communities across the state have experienced population gains during the past decade. Are rural Nebraskans aware of new residents living in their community? How do they feel about their community’s new residents? What do they think will happen to their community’s population during the next ten years?

This report details 2,482 responses to the 2006 Nebraska Rural Poll, the eleventh annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about new residents in their community and their expectations regarding population growth in their community during the next decade. For all questions, comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:

• Almost two-thirds of rural Nebraskans are aware of new residents living in their community. Sixty-four percent are aware of new residents (persons who have moved to their community within the past five years) in their community. Twenty percent are not aware of new residents and 16 percent don’t know. No variations are found by community size or region of the state for this question.

• Rural Nebraskans have mixed opinions on the impact new residents have had on their community. Less than one-third (31%) agree with the statement that new residents who move into their community improve the quality of life. One quarter disagree with the statement and 44 percent neither agree nor disagree. Eighteen percent agree with the statement that new people moving into their community has been bad for the community. Just under one-half (46%) disagree and 37 percent neither agree nor disagree.

• Just under one-half (49%) of rural Nebraskans say more people should be encouraged to relocate to their community. Sixteen percent disagree and 35 percent neither agree nor disagree.

• Many rural Nebraskans believe new residents are made to feel welcome in their community. Fifty-six percent agree with the statement that new residents to their community are made to feel welcome. Thirty-six percent agree with the statement that their community does a lot to include new residents in the community. One quarter (25%) disagree with that statement. Nineteen percent agree with the statement that new residents are often discriminated against while 45 percent disagree.

• Many rural Nebraskans believe new residents tend to become home owners, join a church and attend community events. Over one-half of rural Nebraskans agree with the statements that new residents in their community become members of a church (52%) and become home owners (59%). Almost one-half (47%) agree that new residents attend community events.

• Residents of the Panhandle are more likely than persons living in other regions of the state to agree that new residents improve the quality of life in their community. Thirty-nine percent of Panhandle residents agree with this statement, compared to 26 percent of residents in the Northeast region.

• Newcomers to the community are less likely than longer term residents to agree that new residents to their community are made to feel welcome and that the community does a lot to include new residents. Forty-seven percent of persons living in their community for five years or less agree with the statement that new residents to their community are made to feel welcome, compared to 57 percent of persons living in the community for more than five years. Similarly, 27 percent of newcomers agree with the statement that the community does a lot to include new residents, compared to 37 percent of long term residents.

• Persons living in the Northeast region are more likely than persons living in other regions of the state to say that new people moving into their community has been bad for the community. Twenty-four percent of Northeast region residents agree with this statement, compared to 11 percent of North Central region residents.

• Over one-half of rural Nebraskans expect the population of retired persons and immigrants in their community to increase over the next ten years. Sixty-eight percent expect the population of retired persons to increase and 55 percent believe the number of immigrants will grow during the next decade. Almost one-half (49%) expect the total population of their community to increase over the next ten years. Over one-third (36%) expect the population of young families to decrease during the next decade.

• Persons living in or near larger communities are more likely than persons living in or near smaller communities to think the population of each of the groups will increase over the next ten years. Seventy percent of persons living in or near communities with populations of 10,000 or more say their total community population will increase during the next ten years, compared to 30 percent of persons living in or near communities with less than 500 people. Over one-third (35%) of persons living in or near communities with populations under 1,000 expect their community’s population to decrease over the next decade.

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