Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1997


Published in Great Plains Research 7:2 (Fall 1997). Copyright © 1997 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Using a community classification based on key demographic and geographic factors and data from the U.S. Census, analyses from 212 small communities indicate significant inter- and intra-state differences. The communities studied were located in two states within the North Central Region. The sample was limited to incorporated places with populations between 1,000 and 2,500. Several commonly-held ideas about small communities are either challenged or confirmed by this research. Similarities and differences among the communities as well as between the states support the conclusion that small communities have diverse characteristics. Not all small communities ofthis size are geographically isolated places with declining population. While many small communities have a large proportion of their residents age 65 or older, not all do. Finally, while most small communities are populated by large proportions of white residents, some small communities have growing minority populations. The diversity of small communities has substantial implications for public policy decisions such as the allocation of Community Development Block Grant funding or the distribution of services for community residents. Recommendations for future research directions are also presented.