National Public Radio’s Sunday Morning Edition aired a remembrance for Calvin Beale, a longtime demographer in the Agricultural Department. Beale fundamentally changed Federal policy and funding in the 1970’s by testing his demographic data against reality. He found, by visiting over 2,400 counties during his 55 year career, that rural American was growing, not declining:
He saw that long before we saw it in the data, because he was out and about. And for a nation that was focused on growth, much of rural America had essentially been written off as a declining place. But what Calvin showed was that rural America was growing again. And it made policymakers on a lot of fronts begin to think about not just decline and how to cushion it, but about growth and how to help manage it.
– Kenneth Johnson, University of New Hampshire
You may hear the full story and watch a clip from Jim Wildman’s profile, “On the Rural Road”, here.