Agricultural Economics Department


First Advisor

Bradley Lubben

Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Agricultural Economics, Under the Supervision of Professor Bradley Lubben. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Amanda L. Kowalewski


Populations of rural areas continue to decline, yet some communities are more vibrant than ever. While past research has studied current satisfaction or well-being, few have examined future well-being. Using an ordinal logistic regression and combining primary and secondary data sources, this study investigates the predictors of rural Nebraskan’s sense of future well-being, both at the community and individual levels. The model indicates that resilience may be more important in well-being than social capital. Additionally, certain satisfaction indicators are more important than others. Factor analysis was employed to re-index variables, and findings were similar. Social capital, resilience, and quality of life are closely related and it is difficult to extract individual effects of these phenomena. This study finds complex, interrelated factors that contribute both economically and socially to the makeup of communities and resident’s experiences, and thus to the perceived future well-being of both communities and individuals. This points to a well-rounded development approach that supports building resilience as well as providing amenities that satisfy needs of consumers. It also suggests that it doesn’t matter how rural or urban a place is or what the economic base is but rather what is offered in the community and the social structure of a place.

Advisor: Bradley Lubben