Shrink-Smart Small Towns: Communities can still thrive as they lose population
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Small towns in the Midwest have experienced dramatic changes in social and economic conditions since the 1980s. In the Midwest, most small communities have experienced decline in terms of shrinking populations, exodus of younger people, job losses, and poorer community services (Kusmin 2016). One theoretical explanation for these changes is the shift away from an industrial economy to a postindustrial one, which has impacted traditional rural sectors like agriculture and manufacturing particularly hard (Peters 2013). There is clear evidence that these downward trends have persisted over the past several decades; and are unlikely to be reversed in most communities (Johnson & Lichter 2013).