Over the 1970-1980 period, US nonmetropolitan areas grew more rapidly than previously, achieving overall a faster growth rate than metropolitan areas, with more migrants going from metropolitan to nonmetropolitan areas than in the opposite direction. This paper reviews the literature that has emerged in seeking to understand this new trend, which was contrary to expectations and became known as the nonmetropolitan turnaround. Work includes macroanalyses of changes in nonmetropolitan settlement structure, changes in the distribution of employment, migration streams and differentials, as well as research on residential preferences and migration decision making. This is a new trend in terms of population distribution processes, although evidence that it reflects a greater importance of noneconomic factors in migration is mixed. Nonmetropolitan growth slowed in the latter part of the 1970s and overall the turnaround reversed in the early 1980s, but a return to a generally concentrating settlement pattern appears unlikely. The amount of research accomplished over a short span of time as a consequence of the turnaround is noteworthy, and the findings have contributed to increased understanding of US population change.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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