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Because of its profound implications for growth and decline in rural America, migration has long been a topic of interest. Migration is critical for explaining processes of urbanization, as workers venture into nonmetro counties to live while commuting to jobs in the central cities and expanding suburbs of metro America. Rural sociologists have recently found a pattern of urban to rural migration among the poor. Pushed by expensive and poor-quality housing in the city and attracted by ample and low-cost housing and a higher quality of life in the countryside, the poor often “leapfrog over the city’s suburban ring to settle in one or a group of economically distressed and depopulated towns in a rural periphery” (Fitchen, 1995, p. 193). This article uses the 1990 Census and a special 1991 survey of low-income families living in nonmetro areas of Pennsylvania to explore the reasons the poor move.


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