What Are the Causes of Rural to Urban Migration?

Written by danielle olivia tefft
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What Are the Causes of Rural to Urban Migration?
Traffic Driving Toward Atlanta, Georgia (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Most people will not argue the fact that living in a city is easier overall than living in the country, regardless of income level. Despite that fact, many generations of Americans have made their livelihoods and homes in rural settings by choice over the decades. Currently, unforeseen circumstances such as foreclosure and job loss, coupled with the continuing decay of rural infrastructure projects in a struggling economy, are causing migration to urban areas.

Crumbling Rural Infrastructure

It is no secret that state and federal funding across the nation is drying up as the government tries to rein in out-of-control budget spending. Those in rural areas are especially vulnerable to budget cuts since there is less population to influence budget votes. Thus, rural transportation, education, health care and other important amenities have suffered. In effect, rural and small town America is being sacrificed so that limited budget dollars remain in areas with the most population.

Lack of Opportunity

Self-sustaining rural farms have been severely affected by adverse environmental and economic conditions. Over the decades of the 20th century, many resourceful farmers turned to plentiful rural manufacturing jobs to supplement their dwindling farm earnings. During recent times of prolonged economic hardship, these manufacturing jobs were among the first to disappear. Farm earnings alone can't sustain many of these rural families, and they have little choice but to seek employment in more urban areas.

Rebellion of Youth

Rural youth are more in touch with the outside world than ever before. Through their laptops and smart phones, they see how those in urban settings live. They are lured by possibilities of thousands of daily activities and cushy eight-hour jobs with weekends off, not to mention a huge social network at their fingertips. To the young, the crumbling infrastructure, hardship and lack of excitement of rural America are no match for the fantastic offerings of the urban setting.

Ease of Life

With looming foreclosures and no job prospects in sight, even older generations in rural areas are giving up and retreating to city life. As one gets older, amenities like readily available public transportation, convenient access to health care facilities, grocery stores and social settings become increasingly important. Even ageing farmers have to work long days into the evenings, seven days a week. In the city, more jobs are available, they are typically less physically draining and there is ample time off per week.

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