<ul><li>Why Young People are the Heartland’s Most Precious Declining Resource and How it Matters for America </li></ul><ul...
<ul><li>If there is an idealized type of the agrarian small-town image in America it surely belongs to the Corn Belt and G...
<ul><li>Striking parallels to structural explanations William Julius Wilson offers for the  urban crisis : global market s...
<ul><li>A century has passed since the Lynds’ classic Middletown studies and it has been half-century since Hollinghead’s ...
 
<ul><li>The  MacArthur Foundation’s Network on the Transition to Adulthood and Public Policy  funded the Heartland Study, ...
<ul><li>Mature transitions: Those who entered high school to graduate in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Age 28-30 in 2002. </li></ul...
<ul><li>No state, except for West Virginia, loses more BA-holders after they have completed degrees.  </li></ul><ul><li>In...
<ul><li>There are  college-bound Achievers ,  Seekers who use the military  as a way out , working-class Stayers  caught i...
. 43.1 percent  of respondents from in-depth interviews live in Ellis and Liberty County 30 percent living elsewhere in th...
<ul><li>Back in 1940, just 5 percent of Americans possessed a college education, and these professionals were scattered ac...
 
<ul><li>We had the pot-heads, we had the preps, they were the ones that did real good in school and wore the real nice clo...
<ul><li>Dominate the social world of the school. </li></ul><ul><li>College-bound: the surest route to middle class status,...
<ul><li>I felt like I had a lot of people who were really hoping that I would go on and do good things, and that I had a l...
<ul><li>I felt so disappointed with the attitude of some teachers who didn’t recognize the opportunity to invest in the yo...
Basically, it’s one of those stories where I nailed every test growing up, and my brother struggled.  So it was kind of pr...
<ul><li>Out of an average graduating class of 40 students, Ellis High school records show that 5 to 10 percent of every cl...
<ul><li>Jason Goetz, stationed in Florida, Seeker, high school  </li></ul><ul><li>graduate, 25 </li></ul><ul><li>If  I sta...
<ul><li>The  Seekers headed to the military are the young people not destined for college, not because they don’t want a d...
<ul><li>Higher  fatality rates for rural enlistees  result from the higher rates of enlistment, which, “are possibly linke...
<ul><li>The farm crisis, rise of agribusiness and the demise of the family farm. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow traditional tran...
<ul><li>You had your smart kids and your medium kids , and then you had your low kids…I was way down below the low kids . ...
<ul><li>I think my parents, I know Dad even said that just having a good job or getting some good schooling just try to do...
<ul><li>Shrinking wages  </li></ul><ul><li>It really gets under my skin to do the same thing another guy’s doing but  [he ...
<ul><li>You only need to go to  Postville, Iowa to see the harm that  follows when a plant town loses its plant. Civic lea...
<ul><li>Iowa, as well as New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Kansas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have all embarked on retention/...
<ul><li>Will young people come home because of tax breaks, home mortgages, tuition breaks,  cultural amenities, better job...
<ul><li>Madeline Kaiser, community college grad/four year college dropout, Boomerang, aged 24: </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe if ...
<ul><li>Probably the biggest motivating factor [to come home] was my family…I want to be close to my extended family…I cho...
<ul><li>I didn’t like college, it was a whole bunch of what I wasn’t used to.  I was used to small-town Iowa…And this was ...
<ul><li>The marketing of Iowa campaign is out of sync with young people’s preferences for work, family formation, and cons...
<ul><li>Immigrant workers should not be viewed as an obstacle – but an opportunity - for regional rural development.  </li...
<ul><li>From a policy perspective, rural communities must do more to invest and cultivate Stayers and Returners.  </li></u...
<ul><li>The young people who leave, live with “a ghost version” of themselves who can be found “sitting at the bar…watchin...
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Hollowing Out the Middle

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Why Young People are the Heartland’s Most Precious Declining Resource and How it Matters for America

Patrick Carr
Rutgers University

Maria Kefalas
Saint Joseph’s University

Photographs by Steven Schapiro

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Hollowing Out the Middle

  1. 1. <ul><li>Why Young People are the Heartland’s Most Precious Declining Resource and How it Matters for America </li></ul><ul><li>Patrick Carr </li></ul><ul><li>Rutgers University </li></ul><ul><li>Maria Kefalas </li></ul><ul><li>Saint Joseph’s University </li></ul><ul><li>Photographs by Steven Schapiro </li></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>If there is an idealized type of the agrarian small-town image in America it surely belongs to the Corn Belt and Great Plains- the land of the Homestead Act, frugal, hardworking farmers, Lewis’ Main Street , Wilson’s Music Man , and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. A land of struggle-not always rewarded- and even occasional strife, but without the degrading legacy of slavery, sharecropping, grinding poverty, and soil depletion that has overlaid the rural South. </li></ul><ul><li>- Calvin Beale , A Taste of the Country: A Collection of Calvin Beale’s Writings, 65 . </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Striking parallels to structural explanations William Julius Wilson offers for the urban crisis : global market shifts, deindustrialization, job deskilling and automation, depopulation, concentrated poverty, and the flight of the middle class. </li></ul><ul><li>Rural downturn’s consequences: falling wages, dying communities, growing underground economy fueled by methamphetamine and oxycontin, unemployment and underemployment, family breakdown, joblessness, and failed regional economies. </li></ul><ul><li>The flip-side of Richard Florida’s “creative cities” </li></ul><ul><li>In 700 non-metro counties there are more deaths than births and since 1980, huge segments of the Heartland, particularly from the Great Plains to the Texas Pandhandle, have lost more than 10 percent of their population. Urban renaissances in Chicago and the Twin Cities were fueled by the infusions of educated young people from the prairie and the Corn Belt . </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>A century has passed since the Lynds’ classic Middletown studies and it has been half-century since Hollinghead’s Elmtown’s Youth. </li></ul><ul><li>Red (Real ) versus Blue (Bittergate) America cultural divide </li></ul><ul><li>1 in 5 (60 million) Americans reside in nonmetropolitan areas and a rural crisis calls for meaningful policy interventions. </li></ul><ul><li>This region plays a key role in the national political process and volunteers from rural regions are overrepresented among the troops fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. </li></ul><ul><li>The Heartland will be expected to support initiatives for sustainable food production and alternative energy. But without stable communities and a strong labor pool – especially in the knowledge sector - the region will not be able to play this role. </li></ul><ul><li>Immigration is transforming the region at a breathtaking pace. </li></ul>
  5. 6. <ul><li>The MacArthur Foundation’s Network on the Transition to Adulthood and Public Policy funded the Heartland Study, an 18-month project examining the lives of young people who attended high school during the 1980s and 1990s. </li></ul><ul><li>We lived in a northeastern Iowa community, renamed Ellis, population 2000 approx., and spent 18 month crisscrossing the nation to speak to current and former Iowans residing in 15 states. </li></ul><ul><li>Previous rural-urban migration research has focused on the migrants in their new settings, this work builds in a comparison of migrants and non-migrants, and we take care to note the reasons for leaving: personal development (internal), educational goals (push), and job-related (pull) and evaluate these effects over time with the cohorts. </li></ul>
  6. 7. <ul><li>Mature transitions: Those who entered high school to graduate in 1990, 1991 and 1992. Age 28-30 in 2002. </li></ul><ul><li>Early transitions: Those who entered high school to graduate in 1995, 1996, and 1997. Age 23-25 in 2002. </li></ul><ul><li>The Heartland Study has survey data on 275 former Ellis High students (81.12% response rate) and in-depth qualitative interviews with 104 young adults. </li></ul>
  7. 8. <ul><li>No state, except for West Virginia, loses more BA-holders after they have completed degrees. </li></ul><ul><li>In half of the state’s counties, there are more births than deaths. </li></ul><ul><li>Iowa ranks 48 th for population growth since 1950 and is the sixth whitest state in the Union. </li></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>There are college-bound Achievers , Seekers who use the military as a way out , working-class Stayers caught in the region’s dying farm and factory economy and Returners ( professional High-Flyers and pink-collared Boomerangs ) who come home when new lives someplace else don’t take hold. </li></ul><ul><li>. </li></ul>
  9. 10. . 43.1 percent of respondents from in-depth interviews live in Ellis and Liberty County 30 percent living elsewhere in the state 26.9 percent having moved out of state 18 percent had no form of post-secondary education. Education Family Formation Work Social Background Leavers Seekers military, high school + mixture delayed entry assorted jobs various Achievers college + delayed professional, delayed children of elite, but some from less advantaged background Returners Boomerangs high school + traditional blue/pink collar, early entry similar background of “stayers”/ lower-status High Flyers college + mixture/ traditional professional children of elite Stayers Stayers high school or less traditional early entry, low-wage/ blue collar mostly male, lower-status
  10. 11. <ul><li>Back in 1940, just 5 percent of Americans possessed a college education, and these professionals were scattered across small towns and cities fairly evenly. </li></ul><ul><li>By 1970, five years after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Higher Education Act into law, only five percentage points separated the most highly educated regions in the United States from the least highly educated regions. </li></ul><ul><li>Three decades later, in 2000, “the regional educational gap” had more than doubled to 13 percentage points. </li></ul><ul><li>Domina, Thurston. 2006. “Brain Drain and Brain Gain: Rising Educational Segregation in the United States, 1940–2000,” City and Community 5: 4 December: 387. </li></ul>
  11. 13. <ul><li>We had the pot-heads, we had the preps, they were the ones that did real good in school and wore the real nice clothes and they were all uppity and didn’t want anything to do with anybody else. There were the middle people who weren’t the best students, didn’t have the best clothes, but had a good time, and there were the working people, they had a job instead of going out and partying. </li></ul><ul><li>– Jason Geotz, aged 25. </li></ul>
  12. 14. <ul><li>Dominate the social world of the school. </li></ul><ul><li>College-bound: the surest route to middle class status, a college degree, gives young people to structural opportunity to stage their departure. </li></ul><ul><li>Influential adults offer special treatment for cherry-picked Achievers: Achievers get the message that it is their destiny to move away. Last names mattered but not all the time. </li></ul>
  13. 15. <ul><li>I felt like I had a lot of people who were really hoping that I would go on and do good things, and that I had a lot of potential and I think that probably left a deep impression on me that I had been embraced by the community and kind of set forth to go do something with what I had been given . </li></ul><ul><li>- Ella, graduate student, Achiever, aged 25 </li></ul><ul><li>There were definitely the ‘popular kids’ [whom] the teachers treated differently. I was fairly popular. The teachers were always, it’s like elitist, I mean I could always do anything. I didn’t, but I got away with stuff that I know I shouldn’t have, that the other kids couldn’t have .” </li></ul><ul><li>– Rose, professional, Achiever, aged 30. </li></ul>
  14. 16. <ul><li>I felt so disappointed with the attitude of some teachers who didn’t recognize the opportunity to invest in the young people who were going to stay or come back. It was as if all they cared about were the ones on the honor roll…. I tried to impact the average kids that weren’t all conference volleyball or first chair in the band. It wasn’t my job to inspire them to love history, it was my job to teach them how to tough things out and survive. </li></ul>
  15. 17. Basically, it’s one of those stories where I nailed every test growing up, and my brother struggled. So it was kind of predetermined, it’s just whatever we wanted to do, my family kind of understood that my interests would take me away, while I think they understood that my brothers and sisters would stay. - Charles, law student, Achiever, aged 25. My parents never expected [my sisters and me] to work in high school ‘cause we were involved in so many sports, so that maybe kind of steered us a little more towards college as opposed to kids that, you know, find a job and they stay here [in Ellis] and do that. – Angela, recent college grad, Achiever, aged 23.
  16. 18. <ul><li>Out of an average graduating class of 40 students, Ellis High school records show that 5 to 10 percent of every class enlists in the armed forces annually. </li></ul><ul><li>Recruiters are rare sights at high schools where most students head off to college. </li></ul><ul><li>However, in the schools of the Heartland’s farm and factory towns, they are daily visitors. </li></ul>
  17. 19. <ul><li>Jason Goetz, stationed in Florida, Seeker, high school </li></ul><ul><li>graduate, 25 </li></ul><ul><li>If I stayed in Ellis…I would have done the same thing as the guys I grew up with and married the girl down the street or one of my classmates from a grade below or above. Every time I come home to visit when I have a leave, I see my classmates doing the same jobs they were doing in high school, living in the same place—they haven’t done anything. I’ve been halfway around the world a couple of times. I’ve done all kinds of different things and lived all over the United States. Been and done so many different things that these people will never do. </li></ul>
  18. 20. <ul><li>The Seekers headed to the military are the young people not destined for college, not because they don’t want a degree, but because their families cannot afford it and they lack the resources to get there any other way. Internal drive lead them away from home rather than adult cultivation. </li></ul>
  19. 21. <ul><li>Higher fatality rates for rural enlistees result from the higher rates of enlistment, which, “are possibly linked to diminished opportunities” in rural areas. “Transitioning from youth to adulthood is more problematic in the rural U.S. because there are fewer job opportunities” because industries such as farming, mining, timber and manufacturing are employing fewer people than they have in the past.” Carsey Institute Report, 2006. (http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/documents/RuralDead_fact_revised.pdf) </li></ul>
  20. 22. <ul><li>The farm crisis, rise of agribusiness and the demise of the family farm. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow traditional transition to adulthood </li></ul><ul><li>Marginalized and neglected in the world of school. </li></ul><ul><li>Recipients of minimal capital investments: social, cultural, economic, and human. </li></ul><ul><li>Trapped in a faltering farm-factory economy: lack of health benefits, job security, and stagnating wages. </li></ul>
  21. 23. <ul><li>You had your smart kids and your medium kids , and then you had your low kids…I was way down below the low kids . – Henry, high school graduate, Stayer, aged 30. </li></ul><ul><li>[School] it was there, I was never into it, I just went, well, to put my time in. [ My class rank] was ‘bout as far down bottom as you could get (spitting for effect)…. - Frank, high school graduate, Stayer, aged 29 </li></ul>
  22. 24. <ul><li>I think my parents, I know Dad even said that just having a good job or getting some good schooling just try to do what you can do and get by with what you have. </li></ul><ul><li>– Trevor, high school graduate, Stayer, aged 29. </li></ul><ul><li>[My parents told me] to go through the motions at school….But work…was something I was raised to do . </li></ul><ul><li>- Frank, high school graduate, Stayer, aged 30. </li></ul><ul><li>I never did band or sports or anything like that. I was more of the work type I always had a job after high school. </li></ul><ul><li>- Casey, high school graduate, Stayer, aged 30 </li></ul>
  23. 25. <ul><li>Shrinking wages </li></ul><ul><li>It really gets under my skin to do the same thing another guy’s doing but [he has more seniority and was hired under a better union contract] he makes $20,000 or more a year than me. We’re doing the same stuff. You know, it’s tough to swallow that we’re going to be the first generation that does worse than our parents. </li></ul><ul><li>– Jacob, high school graduate, Stayer, aged 25. </li></ul><ul><li>Skills mismatch in the new economy </li></ul><ul><li>Nowadays, everything is so much computer[s] that you either are going to be a laborer or you’re going to be on your butt behind a computer. You got to do one or the other. And if you’re not good at reading and writing like I am [not,] you’d better learn some of those alternatives. </li></ul><ul><li>– Trevor, high school graduate, Stayer, aged 29. </li></ul><ul><li>No chance to get ahead </li></ul><ul><li>I worked part-time since when I was 16, then I got full-time, and yeah, ever since then I’ve had a job except for one month since then..…[Being a welder] is pretty informal as far as it goes. We show up in the morning and the trailer is sitting there and you just kind of start with whatever needed to be done…But I am at the point now where I’ve been there for the last four years…with the same pay, there’s no ladder to climb . </li></ul><ul><li>- Dave, high school graduate, Stayer, aged 25. </li></ul>
  24. 26. <ul><li>You only need to go to Postville, Iowa to see the harm that follows when a plant town loses its plant. Civic leaders in Ellis insist Lifeguard’s 75 jobs, which start at S10 per hour, and include health benefits and pensions, saved an entire generation of young people. Terry Danvers, Lifeguard’s president and CEO, disagrees, “for now Ellis is surviving, but what we really need is to grow.” </li></ul>
  25. 27. <ul><li>Iowa, as well as New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Kansas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have all embarked on retention/marketing campaigns directed at college grads. The “Come Back to Iowa, Please,” Generation Iowa and Iowa Life Changing Campaigns are all part of an effort to market the state and lure members of the creative class home. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Iowa is nothing but hogs, corn, and old white people” </li></ul>
  26. 28. <ul><li>Will young people come home because of tax breaks, home mortgages, tuition breaks, cultural amenities, better jobs, and marketing campaigns? </li></ul><ul><li>Those who return home, now, come home for none of these rational motivations. </li></ul>Another Iowa Rush Hour
  27. 29. <ul><li>Madeline Kaiser, community college grad/four year college dropout, Boomerang, aged 24: </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe if I had grown up in a big city, like Minneapolis, [I would have wanted a four-year college degree and a career]…[but] I don’t want to even try to be a superwoman. I’d rather hang out on the floor with my kids . </li></ul><ul><li>Taylor Oren, community college, Boomerang, aged 29. </li></ul><ul><li>I see my friends that have [left], you know, like one of my girlfriends went off to Harvard to college, and lived in the city, and, you know, she’s so different now from when she was in school because she’s had culture. When you live in Ellis there is no culture here. I mean this is just plain, small-town America, and I think that you know, you don’t know who you are. I think there’s a lot more life out there than what Ellis people know . </li></ul>
  28. 30. <ul><li>Probably the biggest motivating factor [to come home] was my family…I want to be close to my extended family…I chose to stay here, because I wanted to raise my children [here]. I enjoy Iowa. [We’re not] big-city people…We really like the small community feel, knowing your neighbors, getting involved in the community, knowing your people at church, just feeling a part of the community and being able to contribute to [it]. </li></ul><ul><li>– Liz Volker, High-Flyer, professional </li></ul>
  29. 31. <ul><li>I didn’t like college, it was a whole bunch of what I wasn’t used to. I was used to small-town Iowa…And this was little rich kids from Chicago…and that just didn’t fit my lifestyle and it was a lot more open minded than I was used to in terms of ideals and people and clothing and everything. It blew me out of the water. I wasn’t prepared for all that…it’s not like you walked to school and knew everybody on campus…it was very intimidating . </li></ul><ul><li>-Melissa Dribben, High Flyer, age 29. </li></ul>
  30. 32. <ul><li>The marketing of Iowa campaign is out of sync with young people’s preferences for work, family formation, and consumption and glosses over the variable paths to adulthood. </li></ul><ul><li>Urban growth was driven by rural outmigration. Now that it has ended both rural and urban regions face stagnation. </li></ul><ul><li>The people most likely to leave cherish diversity, the ones who remain, struggle with it. “The real America” versus “bitter” small town dwellers. </li></ul><ul><li>To make themselves attractive to the people they need, the old Iowa must cease to exist. </li></ul>
  31. 33. <ul><li>Immigrant workers should not be viewed as an obstacle – but an opportunity - for regional rural development. </li></ul><ul><li>Rural regions will never be Richard Florida’s cultural mecca: they must play to their strengths. </li></ul><ul><li>The Heartland ought to be ground zero for high school, vocational training and community college innovation. </li></ul><ul><li>Matching the next generation of workers with the jobs needed in the region that “can’t be outsourced” (particularly health care, agriculture, food production, and energy). </li></ul><ul><li>Green technology and agricultural restructuring provide opportunities to keep people on the land. </li></ul>
  32. 34. <ul><li>From a policy perspective, rural communities must do more to invest and cultivate Stayers and Returners. </li></ul><ul><li>The most likely savior of small-town life , immigrants, will be its greatest challenge </li></ul><ul><li>Create more jobs AND re-tool the labor force; offer amenities to keep young people in the region </li></ul><ul><li>Our nation’s moral and economic obligation to veterans and the communities where they live. </li></ul><ul><li>Create more reasons and opportunities for young people to stay and return – proposals include marketing campaigns, tax incentives, tuition relief, mortgage programs, and the new Homestead Act, and a peace corps for rural America. </li></ul>
  33. 35. <ul><li>The young people who leave, live with “a ghost version” of themselves who can be found “sitting at the bar…watching those long-neck bottles of beer line up sweating in front of you.” And, for the ones who stay, small town life has become a place “where people are hanging on to home and hanging onto pride, and hanging on by a thread.” </li></ul>
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