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K-State Today

February 7, 2023

K-State researchers publish new measure of rurality

Submitted by Kate Nelson

K-State researchers Kate Nelson, assistant professor in the geography and geospatial sciences department, and Tuan Nguyen, assistant professor in the College of Education, recently published a paper proposing a new continuous measure of rurality in the Journal of Rural Studies.

"Community assets and relative rurality index: A multi-dimensional measure of rurality" describes an index that integrates measures of environmental, social and economic resources with traditional rurality measures, such as proximity to metropolitan areas and population density. Focusing on rurality from a sustainable rural development perspective, the proposed Community Assets and Relative Rurality, or CARR, index takes into consideration the services and amenities critical for modern life embodied in semipermanent physical assets. Ultimately, metrics of the availability and accessibility of services and amenities based on the locations of 70 types of assets were used in the construction of the index.

The continuous CARR index was compared with existing rurality measures, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Urban Continuum Codes, showing general agreement but also offering valuable differentiation from existing measures. The paper highlights several descriptive cases where existing classifications are inconsistent and where CARR may provide a more consistent and intuitive alternative.

The CARR index was produced for all census block groups in the coterminous U.S., and the data is freely available online at github.com/katesnelson/CARR.

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