Which Definition of Rurality Should I Use? The Relative Performance of 8 Federal Rural Definitions in Identifying Rural-urban Disparities

Authors: Julia Long, BSPH | Paul Delamater, PhD | Mark Holmes, PhD

Topics: Methodology, Rural Health

Research Center: Carolina Health Workforce Research Center

November 8, 2021

There are large variations in the level of agreement among areas that are identified as “rural” under various rurality definitions. Rural-urban disparities are sensitive to the specific definition and which population characteristic that is being considered.

This article explores 8 federal rural definitions and the degree to which they identify the same areas as rural. Rural-urban disparities across socioeconomic, demographic, and health access and outcome measures are also evaluated.

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