Date of this Version
Rural America and the nation as a whole has entered a phase of significant demographic change, as the number of Americans over the age of 65 is estimated to double by 2050. Nebraska counties and the state are, too, experiencing this shift in the age demographic. As the population ages, consideration must be given to the housing options for older adults, specifically those who reside and wish to remain in rural areas.
While broad consideration is given to either population aging or housing in rural areas, there is limited county level analysis adjoining these demographic and housing realities. This study connects these somewhat disparate concepts by providing a framework from which to consider housing for older adults in rural Nebraska counties. The concepts of housing affordability, accessibility and availability present an evaluation tool for the analysis of county level community data for Nebraska’s oldest aged rural counties that have populations with the greatest median age and percent of population over the age of 65, Scotts Bluff, Keith and Hooker Counties as compared to the state as a whole. Data, as collected from the US Census Bureau and state agencies is used to establish a set of variables for consideration and to present rural housing affordability, accessibility and availability for elders in the defined counties. Disparities in housing between the counties and the state are evident, yet a consistent correlation between population age, rurality and housing does not emerge. Further framing the analysis is terminology and policy analysis critical to understanding concepts of an aging population and aging in place and within the context of a rural locality. The purpose of this study is to explore the distinct opportunities of aging in rural locations through the lens of housing for elders in rural Nebraska’s oldest aged counties.
Advisor: Yunwoo Nam