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Data Services Knowledge Base

Q:  

I need an indicator of rurality for zip codes. Are you aware of something I could use?

A:  

There are several indicators of rurality at the county level developed by the Department of Agriculture - a Rural Urban continuum and an Urban Influence measure.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/rural-urban-continuum-codes.aspx

Additional measures can be based on the place of residence and place of work patterns. These are included in the urban influence data.

One can use the Mable Geocorr crosswalk to assign the county measures to the zip code, with the assumption that if a zip code falls into more than one county, the characteristics of the dominant county (county with largest share of the zip code) will be used.

One can also use population density based on census characteristics (square miles and population size).

I have created an Excel zip code file with multiple measures of rurality. The documentation for these measures is included in the sheet labeled documentation:

http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/dis/data/kb/downloads/t1101_ziprural.xls

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