Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version


Document Type



Nebraska Rural Poll, Research Report (November 2014) 14-3, 17 pages

Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Rural Nebraskans are looking for many things in a community. The characteristics of a community that most believe are absolutely essential include social dimensions (sense of personal safety), economic dimensions (jobs/economic opportunities), some basic services (a quality school system, available medical services, affordable housing, quality housing and well maintained infrastructure) and environmental dimensions (a clean and attractive natural environment).

Unfortunately, when asked if these characteristics are present in their current community, some of these areas are lacking. One of the more extreme cases involves jobs/economic opportunities. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents say these are absolutely essential in order for them to have a high quality of life. However, only 11 percent say these exist in their community to a great extent.

Examining these opinions by age can highlight areas communities can highlight to attract new residents of specific age ranges. It can also point out areas that communities can work to improve in order to better attract and retain these same groups. Areas that could be marketed to young people include: jobs/economic opportunities, lack of congestion, sense of personal safety, affordable housing, available child care services, recreational opportunities, a quality school system, and available college classes. These are all areas of increased importance to younger residents as compared to older residents. However, many of these areas have large gaps between what is preferred and what is currently present in the community. Improvement in these areas can not only help attract younger persons to the community, but can help retain this population as well.

Areas that can be marketed to attract older persons include: available medical services, strong church/religious community, available senior citizen programs, effective community leadership, a sense of community among residents, friendly people, a clean and attractive natural environment, acceptance of newcomers, and a well-maintained infrastructure.