Intergenerational Continuity and Change in Rural Lives: Historical and Developmental Insights

Glen H. Elder, Valarie King, Rand D. Conger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Sudden forms of drastic social change have attracted the attention of developmentalists in recent years through their compelling human consequences. Examples include economic depressions, wars, and political transformations. This study focuses on a less visible but no less profound social change and its developmental implications for children, the declining rural population. Using a sample of Iowa fathers (USA) who grew up on farms, we compared the family experience and children of men who followed either the path of farming or of nonfarm employment. Farm children experience greater social inter-dependency with other family members, and this reinforces their feeling of social significance - they mattered for others and also shared responsibility for others. As might be expected, farm youth acquired stronger attachments to their local community and family which were expressed in subsequent agricultural activities and goals. The antecedents and correlates of rural preferences begin to tell the story of rural farm continuity and change in the next generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-455
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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