The Economic Perspective: “Could New Technology Revive Rural Areas?”

Mary:  This is Mary Walden with economist MW welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program asks if new technology could revive rural areas.  Mike, it’s a fact that in North Carolina and most states, urban areas have grown and prospered more than rural regions.  This situation is commonly called the urban-rural divide.  As we look ahead, is there anything on the horizon that could change this?


Mike:  Summary Answer

  • Many factors have been behind the urban-rural divide: globalization, the decline in manufacturing jobs, the growth of tech firms in big cities near universities, and the expansion of college grads who want the lifestyle offered in the big city
  • But some futurists say new technology could change this
  • Virtualization, drone delivery of goods, internet delivery of services, 3D technology moving manufacturing from large factories to households and firms, autonomous vehicles, and ride-sharing
  • All these could reduce advantage of living and working in cities, and increase the attractiveness of rural and small town living
  • Could also be prompted by cities become too expensive and congested
  • So watch trends
  • I’m MW


Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.