Ruralization: the Case for Reversing Urbanization

Ruralization is the process of people moving out of cities and into rural areas. It’s the opposite of urbanization — which has had a negative impact upon American society and should be reversed.

I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man.

Thomas Jefferson

Ruralization will decrease crime, decrease the prevalence of single-parent house-holds, unify communities, and lower average housing costs.

Rural Areas Have Less Crime

According to the The National Center for Victims of Crime: non-metropolitan counties score lower than metropolitan counties on every single metric, including violent crime, robbery, and property crime.

Furthermore, rural areas have lower victimization rates than urban areas on every metric other than aggravated assault — likely because folks in rural areas are more likely to own a gun (brandishing a firearm is enough to upgrade simple assault to aggravated assault; not legal advice).

Why is Crime Higher in Urban Areas?

Higher pecuniary benefits for crime in large cities can explain approximately 27% of the effect of overall crime…Lower arrest probabilities, and lower probability of recognition…seem to explain at most 20% of the urban crime effect. The remaining 45-60% of the effect can be related to observable characteristics of individuals or cities.

Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote

Simply put: crime is easier and more profitable in cities, so it’s more common. This is largely because there are more people to rob, less gun-owners (and thus less risk), and a crowd to easily blend into.

They elaborate on the “characteristics of individuals or cities” later in the paper, such as the possibility that cities attract crime-prone individuals and the prevalence of single-parent house-holds.

Ruralization would bring more criminals into rural areas, but most of them would choose to remain in the cities, and the overall crime-rate would drop by making crime less profitable and more difficult.

More Children Will Grow Up In Married House-Holds

According to the US Census Bureau: 76.3% of children in rural areas live in a married-couple house-hold, while only 67.4% of children in urban areas can say the same; that’s nearly a 9% difference.

As I said before: crime rates rise when single-parent house-holds are more common, largely because it’s a lot harder to raise a child without the help of a spouse, working parents have less time to devote to their children, and the lack of a mother or father figure can damage a child’s development. This also leads to greater levels of immorality.

Not everyone raised in a single-parent house-hold becomes a criminal, but that outcome is a lot more likely in such situations.

Why Do Rural Communities Have Higher Marriage Rates?

A reason more children are raised by married couples in rural communities is because our culture values abstinence and marriage a lot more than cities; there’s a lot more pressure to wait until marriage before having sex, get married before starting a family, and stay married after having children.

Ruralization will increase marriage rates and help children by exposing ex-urbanites to this culture.

Residents of Small Towns Know Each-Other Better

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, like I have, it seems like everyone knows each-other — which is an exaggeration, but has some merit. We can only know so many people, and that limit is reached a lot quicker in cities. Also, data from the Census Bureau shows people in urban areas are, ironically, more likely to live alone.

You don’t have to know everyone, but smaller towns tend to be much more cohesive for this reason. Aside from ‘crimes of passion’ like spousal murder, criminals are less likely to victimize someone they know. Furthermore, you’re more likely to help someone in need if you personally know them.

Ruralization will make society more cohesive and unified by making the average person more familiar with their local community.

Rural Areas are Cheaper to Live In

It’s cheaper to live in the country than in a city. Housing costs are 30% less in rural areas, for example. This is largely due to supply and demand: there’s less demand to live in a rural area, so homes there are less valuable.

Ruralization will increase housing costs in rural areas, but since the population will be more evenly spread out — rather than concentrated in highly-priced cities — more people will have access to affordable housing.

How Do We Ruralize America?

Ruralization won’t be easy, but it can be done through government policies encouraging people to move to rural areas and decreasing the population density of cities.

For example, we could subsidize housing in rural areas, or give tax credits to married couples who choose to raise their children there. Government housing could also be built almost exclusively in the country.

We could re-write zoning laws to allow for more single-family homes, while restricting large apartment complexes, in order to make cities less dense. This will decrease housing availability in cities, but that’s a perk — so long as housing increases in rural areas proportionately.

Conclusion

Ruralization will decrease crime by making it less profitable and more difficult. It will also decrease single-parent house-holds by introducing urbanites to a family-based culture, unify communities by increasing the share of your community you’re able to personally know, and lower average housing costs by spreading out demand.

We can achieve this through policies that encourage people to move to rural areas and decrease the population density of cities.

Recommended reading: Favorability Voting is the Best Electoral Method.

View Sources

Edward L. Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote. “Why Is There More Crime In Cities?”. National Bureau of Economic Research, Jan. 1996, https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w5430/w5430.pdf. Accessed 5 Oct. 2021.

Michael. “Rural vs Urban Living – Budgets and Net Worth”. Wealth Meta, 18 Sep. 2018, https://www.wealthmeta.com/blog/rural-vs-urban-living-budgets-and-net-worth. Accessed 5 Oct. 2021.

The National Center for Victims of Crime, Justice for Victims Justice for All, and the Office for Victims of Crime. “Urban and Rural Crime”. NCJRS.gov, https://www.ncjrs.gov/ovc_archives/ncvrw/2016/content/section-6/PDF/2016NCVRW_6_UrbanRural-508.pdf. Accessed 5 Oct. 2021.

United States Census Bureau. “Measuring America: Our Changing Landscape”. United States Census Bureau, 8 Dec. 2016, https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2016/comm/acs-rural-urban.html. Accessed 5 Oct. 2021.


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