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Older Adults Migrate To Rural Counties With Recreation Opportunities

Kenneth Johnson
New Hampshire University

Young adults are fleeing rural counties in favor of more urban areas of the country. But older adults are filling those spaces the young adults leave behind. That’s according to a new study by the Carsey Institute at New Hampshire University. The study’s Senior Demographer is Kenneth Johnson.

“We looked carefully at two kinds of rural counties, one with recreational counties. And recreational counties have lots of scenic amenities and built amenities, like golf courses. And those kinds of counties tend to attract older adults. So they’re the fastest growing part of rural America, and that migration flow into them is a big factor in why they’re growing so quickly,” Johnson said.

He says this is good for rural areas because it brings a stable population with a steady source of funds.

“They bring significant economic resources to these communities,” Johnson said. “And, in addition, because they need to have houses built and infrastructure, and they would contribute to activity in restaurants, and hotels, and hospitals, they also create more opportunities for younger adults who would be less likely to leave those counties.”

This means in the future, the younger population might be more likely to stay. Or, if they do not, they might be more willing to return.

The most striking example is Wayne County, where the number of older adult migrants there outnumber the amount of young adults leaving. Wayne County boasts popular recreational spots like Lake Wappapello and Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.

To check out the migration patterns in your area, click here.

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