SOS—Satisfied or Stuck, Why Older Rural Residents Stay Put: Aging in Place or Stuck in Place in Rural Utah


rural sociology, rural Utah, aging in rural communities


As rural communities undergo substantial demographic and economic changes, understanding the migration intentions and their antecedents of rural elderly persons becomes increasingly important. Using data drawn from a survey of adults from 24 rural Utah communities conducted in 2008, we examine whether rural residents 60 years of age or older plan to remain in their present communities (N= 621). We use structural equation models (SEM) to estimate the relationships between a variety of individual and community‐level background measures, including perceptions of local service quality, leaving one's community for health care, Internet use, attachment to and satisfaction with community, and plans to age in place. Results suggest that even as the rural context of economic decline, population loss, and distance to medical services may reduce the viability of staying in a community, a desire to remain in the community is primarily a function of perceptions of the quality of local services and community satisfaction. This research highlights the need to better understand the interplay between the availability of medical services and perceptions of distance as well as to understand the complex relationship between individual and community level characteristics for migration intentions.

Original Publication Citation

Erickson, Lance D., Vaughn R.A. Call, and Ralph B. Brown. (2012). “SOS – Satisfied or Stuck, Why Older Rural Residents Stay Put: Aging-in-Place or Stuck-in-Place in Rural Utah.” Rural Sociology, 77(3):408-434

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Rural Sociology




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor