Rural Definitions

The concept of rurality is an inexact term that means different things to different people. Many definitions have been created through the years to be used for different purposes. The Center for Rural Health has significant expertise with rural definitions, including:

  • Helping communities/facilities find out if they're considered rural – see the Rural Health Information Hub's Am I Rural? tool.
  • Communicating which rural definitions are used by various programs.
  • Helping funders and policymakers choose appropriate definitions for programs targeted at rural communities.
  • Creating new definitions of rurality.

Our director, Gary Hart, has particular interests and expertise in rural geographic taxonomies. He was a principal developer of the Rural-Urban Commuting Areas (RUCA) Code and Frontier and Remote classification schemes which were both developed with funding by the federal Office of Rural Health Policy and the USDA's Economic Research Service. RUCA codes are used by researchers in their rural research, as well as by several federal agencies to determine eligibility for rural programs.

For more information, see the What Is Rural? page on the Center for Rural Health's Rural Health Information Hub website.

Key Contact

Gary Hart, PhD - Director

Publications

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