Why some rural places prosper and others do not

Andrew M. Isserman, Edward Feser, Drake E. Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


More than 300 rural counties are more prosperous than the nation. Each has lower unemployment rates, lower poverty rates, lower school dropout rates, and better housing conditions than the nation. Prosperous counties tend to have more educated populations, more diverse economies, more private non-farm jobs, more farmers and government farm payments, more creative class occupations, and more equal income distributions. They have fewer African-American, American Indian, or Hispanic residents and fewer recent immigrants. Some findings support what many rural people believe to be true: civically engaged religious groups and other identities that bind people together can really matter. Other results contradict conventional wisdom. For instance, climate and distances to cities and major airports, are relatively unimportant. Focusing on prosperity, instead of growth or competitiveness, provides new insights into rural conditions and prospects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-342
Number of pages43
JournalInternational Regional Science Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Creative class
  • Economic development
  • Place prosperity
  • Regional development
  • Rural development
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Why some rural places prosper and others do not'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this