CARI: Center for Applied Rural Innovation


Date of this Version



Center for Applied Rural Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, July 2012. Center Research Report 12-1. 37 p.


Copyright 2012, UNL Center for Rural Applied Innovation. Used by permission. Also available at:


Nebraska’s unemployment rate has been one of the lowest in the nation in recent years. The agricultural economy has also been strong with record levels of farm income in 2011. Given the challenges and uncertainties of recent years, how do rural Nebraskans believe they are doing and how do they view their future? Have these views changed over the past seventeen years? How satisfied are they with various items that influence their well-being? Most rural Nebraskans have also reported high satisfaction levels with their religion/spirituality in previous polls. How often do they attend church? How do they view their church? This paper provides a detailed analysis of these questions.

This report details 2,323 responses to the 2012 Nebraska Rural Poll, the seventeenth annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about their individual well-being. Trends for some of the questions are examined by comparing data from the sixteen previous polls to this year’s results. In addition, comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:

-Most rural Nebraskans believe they are better off than they were five years ago.

-Rural Nebraskans continue to be generally positive about their future.

-Most rural Nebraskans disagree that people are powerless to control their own lives.

-Following trends in previous years, rural Nebraskans are most satisfied with their marriage, family, friends, religion/spirituality and the outdoors. They continue to be less satisfied with job opportunities, current income level and financial security during retirement.

-Persons with the highest household incomes are more likely than persons with lower incomes to feel they are better off compared to five years ago, are better off compared to their parents when they were their age, and will be better off ten years from now.

-Persons with lower education levels are more likely than persons with more education to believe that people are powerless to control their own lives.

-Most rural Nebraskans are members of a church and attend church at least once a month.

-Rural Nebraskans who attend church generally are positive about the future of their church.