CARI: Center for Applied Rural Innovation


Date of this Version



Center for Applied Rural Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, September 2011. Center Research Report 11-2. 27 p.


Copyright 2011, Center for Applied Rural Innovation. Used by permission. Also available at


Nebraska appeared to survive the recent economic recession better than most other states. The state's unemployment rate has been one of the lowest in the nation in recent years. The agricultural economy has also been strong. Farm income levels reached record levels in 2010 and are expected to remain strong this year. 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 sixteen years? How satisfied are they with various items that influence their well-being? How happy are rural Nebraskans? Do they believe they are entrepreneurial or leaders in various areas of their lives? This paper provides a detailed analysis of these questions.

This report details 2,490 responses to the 2011 Nebraska Rural Poll, the sixteenth 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 fifteen 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.

-The majority of younger persons are dissatisfied with their job opportunities.

-Most rural Nebraskans say they are very happy or fairly happy.

-Persons living in the Southeast region are more likely than persons living in other regions of the state to report being very happy.

-Most rural Nebraskans rate themselves as entrepreneurial.

-Persons living in or near smaller communities are more likely than persons living in or near larger communities to report being entrepreneurial.

-Most rural Nebraskans consider themselves a leader in their family and their work/career.