Date of this Version
This working paper presents findings from the second annual Nebraska Rural Poll. The study is based on 3,264 responses from households in the 87 nonmetropolitan counties in the state. The objectives of this paper are to answer the following questions:
1. Has the well-being of rural Nebraskans changed from what they reported in the first annual Rural Poll?
2. All things considered, do rural Nebraskans believe they are better off today than five years ago, and do they believe they are better off than their parents were at their age?
3. Do rural Nebraskans believe they will be better or worse off ten years in the future?
4. Do rural Nebraskans believe that “people are powerless to control their own lives”?
5. How important are certain factors in determining rural Nebraskans’ well-being and how satisfied are they with those same factors?
Key findings include the following:
•Over sixty percent of rural Nebraskans believe they are better off than their parents were at their age.
•Sixty percent of the respondents believed they were either better off or about the same as they were five years ago, and seventy-five percent believed they would be either better off or about the same ten years from now.
•Rural Nebraskans tended to have a somewhat more positive outlook in 1997 than in 1996. More of the 1997 respondents said they were better off than they were five years ago and more of them expect to be better off ten years from now than last year’s respondents.
•Certain sub-groups of respondents were less likely than others to be positive about their present and/or future well-being. These sub-groups include those living in smaller towns, those living in the Panhandle Region, respondents with lower incomes and lower educational levels, female respondents and those who are widowed.
•Slightly less than forty percent of rural Nebraskans either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement that “…people are powerless to control their own lives.” However, the proportion of the respondents holding this belief did increase somewhat between 1996 and 1997.
•Again, certain sub-groups of the respondents were more likely than others to believe that “…people are powerless.” These subgroups include those with lower income and educational levels and those age 65 and over.
•Rural Nebraskans rank their family, the health of their family, and their own health as the most important factors affecting their overall well-being.
•Several other factors, including financial security during retirement and current income levels, were also quite important in affecting overall well-being. At the same time, a significant proportion of the respondents were not very satisfied with either their current income levels or financial security during retirement.