Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version


Document Type



Nebraska Rural Poll, CARI Research Report (October 2012) 12-4, 44 pages

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

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By many different measures, rural Nebraskans are positive about their community. Many rural Nebraskans rate their community as friendly, trusting and supportive. Most rural Nebraskans also say it would be difficult to leave their community. In addition, most rural Nebraskans disagree that their community is powerless to control its future.

Differences of opinion exist by the size of their community. Residents of smaller communities are more likely than residents of larger communities to rate their community favorably on its social dimensions. However, 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 and will be a better place to live ten years from now.

Except for a few services that are largely unavailable in rural communities, rural Nebraskans are generally satisfied with basic community services and amenities. They are most satisfied with: fire protection, parks and recreation, library services, and religious organizations. On the other hand, at least one-third of rural Nebraskans are dissatisfied with the retail shopping, entertainment, streets and roads, restaurants, arts/cultural activities and local government in their community.

Rural Nebraskans are less positive about their current situation compared to last year. Just over four in ten (42%) rural Nebraskans believe they are better off than they were five years ago, compared to 51 percent last year. Similarly, rural Nebraskans’ outlook on their future is much more negative this year compared to last year. The proportion of rural Nebraskans that believe they will be better off ten years from now declined sharply from 45 percent last year to 34 percent this year (the lowest of all 18 years of the study). The proportion of respondents stating they will be worse off ten years from now increased sharply from 20 percent last year to 32 percent this year (the highest of all 18 years).

Certain groups remain pessimistic about their situation. Persons with lower household incomes, older persons, and persons with lower educational levels are the groups most likely to be pessimistic about the present and the future.

When asked if they believe people are powerless to control their own lives, most rural Nebraskans disagree.

Rural Nebraskans continue to be most satisfied with family, spirituality, friends, and the outdoors. On the other hand, they continue to be less satisfied with job opportunities, their current income level, and financial security during retirement.