A new Pew Research Center survey reveals that while some gaps are widening between urban, suburban and rural dwellers in America, some similarities exist across demographics. The study analyzes what unites and divides Americans living in different communities as well as in their residential areas. Overall, urban, suburban and rural dwellers say people living in their same communities share similar values to them, but they see more differences with people from other communities.

The Pew poll showed a majority of rural residents (58 percent) say the values of most people in urban areas are very or somewhat different from theirs. Of urban dwellers, 53 percent felt rural residents didn’t share their values, while 46 percent said most people in rural areas did.

One area of relative agreement was on whether rural areas get their fair share of federal dollars. About 71 percent of rural residents, 61 percent of suburban residents and 57 percent of urban communities, say rural areas receive less than their fair share of federal dollars. The views didn’t vary considerably depending on political affiliation. However, while about half of urban dwellers felt they didn’t receive their fair share of federal dollars, only a third of rural and suburban residents felt the same.

Another area of agreement was drug addiction. Almost equal shares of urban (50 percent) and rural (46 percent) say that “drug addiction is a major problem in their local community.” But regarding jobs, only 22 percent of suburban communities said this was a major concern, while 34 percent of urban dwellers said it was, and 42 percent of rural dwellers said jobs were a major concern.

Racially, America is changing and getting older at the same time, but it’s not affecting communities equally. In urban communities, the population has increased 13 percent since 2000, and 56 percent of the population is nonwhite. Only 21 percent of the rural population is nonwhite, and the rural community has only grown three percent since 2000. The elderly population has grown at least 20 percent since 2000 in all three communities.

Not surprisingly, political affiliations showed polarization across the three communities. In urban communities, traditionally Democratic territory, more people have moved even further to the left. The right conservative counterpart has grown increasingly stronger in rural communities. Adding to that, 65 percent of urban dwellers, 52 percent of suburban dwellers and 70 percent of rural dwellers feel “most people who live in different types of communities don’t understand the problems they face.”

About 6,251 respondents were surveyed using the American Trends Panel program of the Pew Research Center. The survey took place over a two-week period between February 26 and March 11 this year. The American Trends Panel examines the lives of Americans living in rural, suburban and urban centers as well as how their localities impact their ways of life and their interactions with residents of other communities.

The research was undertaken to assess a changing America that is becoming “racially and ethnically diverse” with a growing aging population by the day. These demographic changes are reshaping the structure of the country as well as the orientations of the people on a measurable basis. The results could also impact on how the government makes and executes plans for the people in all spheres of life.

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