Date of this Version
Nebraska Rural Poll: A Research Report, no. 16 (October 4, 2016). Also available at http://ruralpoll.unl.edu.
By many different measures, rural Nebraskans are positive about their community. Many rural Nebraskans rate their community favorably on its social dimensions: as friendly, trusting and supportive. Most rural Nebraskans say it would be difficult to leave their community. And, most rural Nebraskans disagree that their community is powerless to control its future.
Across all years of this study, rural Nebraskans’ views about the change in their community have generally been positive. The proportion believing their community has changed for the better during the past year has usually been greater than the proportion believing it has changed for the worse, especially during the past five years when the gap between the two has widened. In addition, rural Nebraskans’ optimism about the expected change in their community ten years from now has increased during the past six years.
Some differences in residents’ evaluations of their community exist by community size. Residents of larger communities are more likely than residents of smaller communities to say their community has changed for the better during the past year, will be a better place to live ten years from now and disagree that their community is powerless to control its own future. However, residents of smaller communities are more likely than residents oflarger communities to say it would be difficult to leave their community.
Except for some services that are largely unavailable in rural communities, rural Nebraskans are generally satisfied with basic community services and amenities. However, the proportion of rural Nebraskans satisfied with many social services and entertainment services has decreased across all 20 years of the study. Declines in satisfaction levels across all 20 years are seen with nursing home care, medical care services, senior centers, mental health services, entertainment, retail shopping and restaurants.
Only six percent of rural Nebraskans indicate they are planning to move from their community in the next year. Of those who are planning to move, just under one-half plan to leave Nebraska.
When asked to rate their community to a potential newcomer, most rural Nebraskans would rate the safety, the environment for raising children and the natural/outdoor environment of their community as excellent. And, at least four in ten rural Nebraskans would rate the church/religious community and friendliness or supportiveness of neighbors as excellent. Over two in ten rural Nebraskans would rate their local taxes as poor to a person looking to move to their community.
Persons living in or near smaller communities are more likely than persons living in or near larger communities to rate the following characteristics as excellent to a newcomer: environment for raising children, the natural/outdoor environment, sense of community among residents, and cost of living. Other items are more likely to be rated as excellent by persons living in or near larger communities: church/religious community; available outdoor recreational opportunities; civic and nonprofit organizations; arts, entertainment and cultural activities; and available child care services.
Most rural Nebraskans rate themselves as having conservative political views on both economic and social issues. They also rate their community’s political views on both economic and social views as conservative. In fact, they view their community’s political views on social issues as more conservative than their own.