Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America
In 2001, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, sociologists Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas moved to Iowa to understand the rural brain drain and the exodus of young people from America’s countryside. They met and followed working-class “stayers”; ambitious and college-bound “achievers”; “seekers,” who head off to war to see what the world beyond offers; and “returners,” who eventually circle back to their hometowns. What surprised them most was that adults in the community were playing a pivotal part in the town’s decline by pushing the best and brightest young people to leave.
In a timely, new afterword, Carr and Kefalas address the question “so what can be done to save our communities?” They profile the efforts of dedicated community leaders actively resisting the hollowing out of Middle America. These individuals have creatively engaged small town youth—stayers and returners, seekers and achievers—and have implemented a variety of programs to combat the rural brain drain. These stories of civic engagement will certainly inspire and encourage readers struggling to defend their communities.
Hollowing Out the Middle Rings True
By olingerstories - November 16, 2009
Carr and Kefalas's HOLLOWING OUT THE MIDDLE:THE RURAL BRAIN DRAIN AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR AMERICA is a scientific, yet heart-felt look at the demise of small town rural America. Setting up in a renamed Iowa town, the authors ask why the best and the brightest often leave their heartland roots behind and then ask what can be done to reverse the trend. They divide rural young people up into four main categories:
1) The Achievers--those who are not only personally driven to succeed, but praised throughout their communities for their talent and achievements. They earn awards, go off to college, and never return because they have over-qualified themselves to return home.
2) The Stayers--those who want to make a go of it in the only place they have ever called home. They love their families, the community, and the opportunity to raise their kids in the homeland, despite the fact that employment opportunities are limited and the chance to earn high wages low... read more
Wake Up, River City...You've Got Trouble
By Peter Baklava - October 19, 2009
It's the irony of all ironies that the Midwestern United States is referred to as "the Heartland", because in some parts of the region, you'd be hard-pressed to find a pulse.
Due to rapidly aging populations, and the steady outflux of the university-educated young, small towns now confront a stark and unprecedented threat to their existence. Economies are faltering, tax bases rapidly eroding, and populations already underserved are finding it nearly impossible to attract health-care professionals, particularly specialists and psychiatrists. "Hollowing out the Middle" breaks little new ground in acknowledging an age-old problem, which has only intensified since the 1980's "farm crisis"....but it does provide a simple analysis of the trends working against Middle America, and the way that the small town movers and shakers have only succeeded in aiding and abetting the demise of their communities in many instances. As a long-overdue "kick in the pants", it is hoped that... read more
A fascinating and highly recommended read
By Midwest Book Review - December 15, 2009
What can attract an intellectual to rural society? "Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America" is a discussion of the exodus of thinkers from middle America and the heartland. The authors, Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas, moved to a small town to study the social aspects of working class people who stay in their home towns and try to make ends meet for the good of themselves and their town. These towns, they argue, are hurt most when their brightest young people leave upon reaching adulthood. An interesting discussion of the fate of small town America and what could truly be the cause, "Hollowing Out the Middle" is a fascinating and highly recommended read.