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Concentrated Immigration, Restructuring and the Selective Deconcentration of the U.S. Population

Publication Abstract

Frey, William H., and Kenneth M. Johnson. "Concentrated Immigration, Restructuring and the Selective Deconcentration of the U.S. Population." PSC Research Report No. 96-371. 11 1996.

The unprecedented, widespread 1970s "turnaround" from decline to growth in America s nonmetropolitan areas was a subject of widespread theorizing on the part of demographers, sociologists and geographers. Just as the finishing touches were put on these theories, new patterns of metropolitan gains and nonmetropolitan decline emerged over the 1980s. Now, new post-1990 population estimates show that, once again, nonmetropolitan population changes have shifted to a net in-migration vis-a-vis the nation's metropolitan areas. This new reversal in the fortunes of America's rural population requires us to review the theories which have been advanced to explain earlier trends.

This paper reevaluates three key theoretical perspectives that have accounted for much of the observed nonmetropolitan population shiftings of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s with an eye toward their possible revision to account for the new 1990s trends. These explanations treat the nonmetropolitan population shifts as part of the entire settlement system that both affects and is affected by broader social, economic and demographic forces. We pay particular attention to a demographic force that has heretofore received little mention in discussions of rural population change -- international migration. Immigration to the U.S. has increased substantially since the 1970s. While its direct impact is felt by large metropolitan areas, its interaction with other settlement system forces may be promoting a secondary domestic migration to fuel growth in smaller metropolitan areas, and in nonmetropolitan territory.

Dataset(s): US census data, 1980 and 1990, 1995 postcensal population estimates proclaimed by the US Census Bureau.

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