restricted access The Role of Gender in Rural Population Decline in Kansas and Nebraska, 1990–2010

Migration patterns of young adults are thought to have a significant role in the overall dynamics of population change in the Great Plains. Although most research has discussed migration patterns of “young people” as if this group were homogenous, there is evidence of gender differences with regard to residential preferences among youth, and still other research has noted the disparate opportunities afforded to men and women of the rural Great Plains. Sex ratio data for Kansas and Nebraska, calculated from US Census records at the county and subcounty levels for the years 1990, 2000, and 2010, were analyzed for differences in residential outcomes of young men and young women by creating age-sex “cohorts” and comparing their changes over a period of 10 years. Although more young men left areas of low population, places with populations of 800 or fewer residents experienced a mean sex ratio increase of 38.9% (+14.66 net change) over the period from 2000 to 2010, indicating increasing imbalance between men and women in those places. Conversely, places of more than 5,000 residents experienced an increase in young women relative to young men, resulting in a mean sex ratio decrease of 2.26% (–2.88 net change). Further analysis provides evidence that young women are disproportionately more attracted to urban places within the study area, and these places appear to be trending toward far more balance between young men and young women compared to less populous places.