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K-State Today

July 30, 2015



Sociologist addresses depopulation in Kansas

By Laszlo Kulcsar

Laszlo Kulcsar, professor of sociology, gave a talk at the International Conference on Population Geographies in Brisbane, Australia, addressing the dynamics of rural depopulation in Kansas.

University of Queensland's Centre for Population Research hosted the conference, which opens up potential collaboration within the existing arrangements between the University of Queensland and K-State.

The talk focused on rural outmigration and natural decrease in Kansas, disseminating the first results from a national project on natural decrease and extreme aging. Collaborators in the project include researchers from Cornell University, Louisiana State University and Brigham Young University.

Depopulation has been a major challenge for rural Kansas since the start of agricultural mechanization and farm consolidation in 1960s. Persistent outmigration results in a distorted age structure, which in turn jeopardizes the demographic sustainability of communities. It also contributes to the loss of local services and municipal revenues.

While counties used to have frequently changing patterns of natural increase, in the past 20-30 years many Kansas counties have had consistently negative population trends. High rural fertility and the fact that most of the Baby Boom was still in active age largely mitigated these trends in the past, but the future of many rural communities is very much in question today.

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