Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Evert Van der Sluis


This study focuses on both economic and noneconomic determinants of geographical migration out of rural areas in the United States. In line with existing studies on individual’s decision to migrate from rural to urban areas, our analysis compares expected returns in rural to those in urban areas. Using annual U.S. countylevel count data spanning the period from 2010 to 2014, Fixed Effect and Negative Binomial methods are used to evaluate the effects of both economic and noneconomic variables on geographical outmigration from rural to urban areas. Determining factors investigated include distance between place of origin and potential destination, median household income, educational attainment, the poverty rate, the unemployment rate, a natural amenity index, the prevalence of primary healthcare providers and social associations. Findings suggest that higher expected returns in urban compared to rural areas contribute to releasing people out of rural areas in the United States. A large distance between origin and destination associated with high migration costs demotivate rural people to migrate to urban areas. On the other side, relatively high median household incomes, low unemployment rates, high level of education, a high presence of natural amenities, high level of access to primary healthcare providers in urban destination areas encourage rural people to migrate to urban areas. The poverty rate and social associations did not significantly affect rural outmigration decisions in the United States during the period studied.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Rural-urban migration -- United States.
Migration, Internal -- United States.
Migration, Internal -- Economic aspects -- United States.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 38-40)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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Economics Commons