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Stevenson Center, rural schools


This thesis reports the results of a year-long quantitative research project that examined the causal relationships between population loss, agricultural consolidation and school closures in rural Illinois—three primary facets of the overall decline in rural America. Conventional wisdom conceptualizes the following progression: a shifting U.S. economy from agriculture to manufacturing moved jobs to urban centers, which along with the reduced need for labor from industrialization in farming, caused out-migration from rural America; eventually this led to many rural schools closing due to dropping enrollment. However, it is hypothesized that these processes create exacerbating feedback loops. Specifically, loss of population leads to further agricultural consolidation, and school closures lead to increased population loss.

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