Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Dr. Katrina Mullan

Committee Co-chair

Dr. Matthew Taylor

Commitee Members

Dr. Katrina Mullan, Dr. Matthew Taylor, Dr. Fernando Sanchez


population migration, New West, regional economics, natural amenities


University of Montana


This research examines how location-specific amenities affect rural population growth given demographic and cultural differences found in New West and Old West census tracts in the mountain west. In the 1970s, the United States experienced an unexpected turnaround in migration patterns as households began moving from urban to rural areas. Identifying different drivers of rural population growth is necessary for planning for and managing future growth in ways that optimize economic benefits while minimizing potential environmental degradation.

Using cross-sectional, specially constructed, spatially explicit data, this research identifies how determinants of population growth differ in New West versus Old West census tracts. Marginal effects from an OLS model with interaction terms identifies that drivers of population change, namely natural amenity preferences, in New West versus Old West do differ.



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