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Population change in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains, 1960--2000

Paul A Kelley, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study used several methods of analysis to describe and explain population change in six states in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains between 1960 and 2000. First, a literature review outlined trends in the United States during the study period, and a historical context for the six states was created using standard state history texts. Census data were used to create county-level maps of change in density and percent change for the decades from 1960 to 2000. Intuitive categories of high to low change were chosen, and a dichromatic color scheme represented the dual phenomena of population gain and loss. Several patterns were apparent, such as loss in metropolitan cores in the 1970s, the struggle almost all counties went through in the 1980s, and growth of most nonagricultural counties during the 1990s. To complement the cartographic analysis, each county was put into a category based on its trend of population growth, loss, or combination of the two. The data were examined for evidence of counterurbanization. Although the magnitude of change negated the possibility of counterurbanization in all but a few counties, it was worthwhile to point out that there was at least an undercurrent of the phenomenon occurring in the study area. To establish a more precise description of the relationship between population growth or loss and the various factors found in the literature, histories, and analyses, regression analyses were undertaken in each of the four decades and 2000 to 2003. Agricultural employment was significantly associated with loss; counties with large Native American populations and metropolitan areas were associated with gain. Counties with a large proportion of their population of university age were not consistently associated with loss or gain. Location in a physiographic or agricultural region additionally influenced the likelihood of change. Issues such as multicollinearity were discussed before change between 2000 and 2003 was analyzed, future trends speculated upon, and the findings summarized. ^

Subject Area

American Studies|Geography

Recommended Citation

Kelley, Paul A, "Population change in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains, 1960--2000" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3176788.