Urban-Rural Influences in U.S. Environmental and Economic Development Policy

Despite the fact that rural communities have the most to gain and lose in matters involving economic development and environmental preservation, they often are given the least voice in the political processes that create policies in these areas. Agendas are set, policies formulated and implemented by policy-makers, administrators, and practitioners in urban areas. These outside policies may not be consistent with how rural communities view the tradeoffs between the environment and the economy. We call for decentralization of economic and environmental policy. It is understood, however, that such an approach may involve risk. What if rural-based policy-makers and practitioners are, for instance, aggressively anti-environmental and pro- economic growth? Using results from a national sample of rural development officials, this study examines the environmental and economic development attitudes of development officials based on a population continuum. The findings suggest that rural-based development officials often have a greater appreciation of rural environmental quality of life features compared to their urban counterparts. The implications of the findings are detailed and suggestions for future research are provided.

Richard H. Foster and Mark K. McBeth
Bristol, UK: Journal of Rural Studies
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Publication Date: 
October 1, 1996
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