Can gray become green in rural regions?

Date posted: June 2, 2014

Many older adults move when they retire, while many rural areas are lagging in economic growth.  Host Mary Walden asks her husband, NC State University economist Mike Walden, “Can these two facts be put together to create economic improvement?”

Mike Walden: “They can. And you’re absolutely right, that we do see folks who, when they retire now, are more likely to move than in the past. For example, both sets of our parents were born, worked and passed all in the same town. But that’s becoming rare.  People are wanting to move to where it’s warmer. People are wanting to move when they retire to where the cost of living is lower. And they’re also wanting to move to perhaps where their children or their grandchildren are. And North Carolina has been a very attractive state for retirees. Again, it’s warm here. We do have a lower cost of living, about 8 percent lower than the nation. And we obviously have many families who have moved here, working families who have moved here because we’re a growing state. Now research shows that localities, especially localities that have struggled economically, if they can attract retirees, they see their economy improve. They see higher job growth. One concern though, Mary, has been whether retirees who move into a local area, since those retirees don’t have children, will they support their local public schools? The evidence importantly says, yes they do.”

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