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More Than “Not Urban”: Seeking a Quantifiable Definition of Rural

Abstract

Traditionally, planners focus on urban areas, though a significant portion of the U.S. population and most of its land are rural. Existing federal and state definitions of "rural" conflict, inadequately distinguishing these areas, and obfuscating their challenges and opportunities. By developing a clear understanding of what makes a community rural, including a quantifiable and map-able definition, planners will be better prepared to improve outcomes in both rural and urban areas.

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