The most critical capital rural communities hold is their people, or human capital. People define the community’s businesses, farms, organizations and government, but — above all — their capacity to innovate, which is the base for increasing productivity and generates economic growth. Education provides a foundation of skills and knowledge that facilitates this pursuit of innovation. Hence, increased investments in education are key to economic growth.
The loss of educated young people challenges the viability of rural towns. Understanding the economic and social forces affecting rural migration and the ability of rural communities to receive a better return on their investment in education is critical for policymakers. Therefore, we worked to bring attention to the unique needs and circumstances of rural school children and to explore the implications of increased educational attainment for economic competitiveness.