Just after the Pledge of Allegiance, the club’s past president, Linda Edelstein, walked to the podium and, at my request, asked her fellow members the following question: “Do you think there are more differences or similarities among people who live in cities, in suburbs, and in rural areas?” In this age of discord, it is one of the key questions before the country. As protest politics, Twitterized incivility, and 24-hour televised bickering tug at the fabric of the nation, the straining seams are to be found here, between the urban, suburban, and rural areas where Americans live day to day. Along these lines, the ongoing shifts in the country’s demographic plates—with a population growing more numerous, diverse, and older—are playing out in different ways.
Amid widening gaps in politics and demographics, Americans in urban, suburban and rural areas share many aspects of community life. Large demographic shifts are reshaping America. The country is growing in numbers, it’s becoming more racially and ethnically diverse and the population is aging. But according to a new analysis by Pew Research Center, these trends are playing out differently across community types.