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Remaking the HeartlandMiddle America since the 1950s$
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Robert Wuthnow

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691146119

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691146119.001.0001

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The Decline of Small Communities

The Decline of Small Communities

(p.126) Five The Decline of Small Communities
Remaking the Heartland

Robert Wuthnow

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the decline of small communities in the Middle West. In 1980, 76 percent of all the incorporated towns and cities in the Middle West had fewer than 1,500 people. The region's nine states ranked first through ninth nationally (not counting Alaska) in having the highest proportion of small towns this size. These figures indicate that the Middle West was defined by its small communities. The chapter considers the changing size of communities in the Middle West, focusing on how small towns were being affected by and responding to stable or declining populations. It also explores three factors that influenced the trajectory of Middle Western towns: oil, agriculture, and the military. Finally, it discusses the efforts of residents of small communities to keep their towns as livable and attractive as possible.

Keywords:   small communities, Middle West, small towns, population, oil, agriculture, military

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