Last week I closed with this statement, “As the huge bolus of Baby Boomers moves thru the population people who move slower, are less agile, susceptible to cold and heat, and weaker but generally affluent will become a majority force in America.”

Upon further reflection I wondered if that was completely true. The majority part, well, make that major part. The Baby Boomer bulge is quite influential now and is going to stay so for a long time to come. How about this, “Baby Boomers, defined as adults born between 1946 and 1964, include over 79 million Americans. This demographic group represents more than half the nation’s wealth, with an estimated $2.3 trillion in annual buying power” (Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2009, Met Life Mature Market Institute 2009 Demographic Profile).

So what about the other part of that earlier blog, will rural areas, now only 16% of the population, experience any growth in the near future?

There appear to be two distinct population segments that are moving to rural areas. The first are young Hispanic families coming to work in the food processing industry and other factory-type jobs (Dalla) and the second are Baby Boomers coming for a variety of reasons, but mainly retirement (Cromartie & Nelson).

These two groups do not overlap very much as to demographics either. The make up of the boomers is: “17% are minorities. 12% are Black. 4% are Asian. Less than 1% are American Indian and Alaska Natives. People of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) comprise 11% of Baby Boomers” (Source: Met Life Mature Market Institute 2009 Demographic Profile). Boomers who move to the country are usually empty-nesters seeking a scenic place to retire or a cheaper home (Cromartie & Nelson). The advance of Internet services has allowed boomers to continue to work at white-collar jobs as distance employees or consultants.

And one just wonders, if after a life of chasing the American dream, the boomers did not recall their hippy days of yearning for a rural commune, and now finally are seeking out that vision. I know that where I live the old hippy is not a vanishing breed.

Hispanics who move to rural areas for factory jobs are initially young men, with their families following along later. Thus, this group is younger with children and perhaps a few elders tagging along as well.

Approximately 6 million boomers live in Texas and more will move here. We even have a state program to promote retirement in Texas, the GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Community Program ( To date a significant number of rural East Texas communities are already participating. This migration will have a significant effect on Texas and will generate health care and wellness concerns as a result.

These two groups will have different drivers for the communities they live in. Younger families, with limited incomes, will need schools and social services geared to the issues of the young. The boomers will demand and be able to pay for health services and social infrastructure to aid mobility and access. Thus, many a sleepy rural community, struggling along on dwindling farming and ranching activities and with moribund retail services, may soon find itself with new and demanding residents who will bring both consumer benefits and social liabilities.


Cromartie, John and Nelson, Peter. Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America. United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Economic Research Report Number 79, August 2009.

Dalla, Rochelle. Examining Strengths and Challenges of Rapid Rural Immigration. Great Plains Studies: A Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 2004.