Growth and decline : a typology for understanding patterns of population and economic change in rural Texas counties

Aguiniga, Donna Marie
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This study developed a new typology to better understand patterns of change in rural counties. A cluster analysis was performed to group rural Texas counties by the population percent change and per capita personal income percent change that occurred between the years 2000 and 2007. A stable five-cluster solution was selected as the most appropriate. The clusters were described as Declining Population/Stable Economy, Growing Population/Growing Economy, Declining Population/Growing Economy, Growing Population/Stable Economy, and Declining Population/Declining Economy based on the means of the cluster variates. The clusters were then profiled to determine how they differed on a series of identified factors that have been found in the literature to affect population and economic growth in rural areas. Clusters were found to differ on net migration, foreign born migration, race/ethnicity of residents, percentage of commuters, economic dependence status, and number of two and four-year education institutions. Generated maps of the clusters revealed that bordering a neighboring state or country may play a role in a county’s population and economic growth; thus, it is recommended that additional attention needs to be given to understanding and facilitating cross border collaborations. Recommendations were also made for community development efforts to focus on improving educational access in rural counties and developing services to draw in foreign born immigrants.