Definitions of "rurality" vary greatly and can be complex, taking into account population size, population density, travel to work or commerce, distance from a metropolitan center, and other measures important to rural living. Find resources in this section that provide differing definitions of "rural" including Rural Urban Continuum Codes (RUCC) of the Economic Research Service that may provide the best way for child welfare practitioners to understand and serve children, youth, and families in rural areas.
2010 Census Urban and Rural Classification and Urban Area Criteria
United States Census Bureau (2015)
Provides the Census Bureau's urban-rural classification, which is fundamentally a delineation of geographical areas, identifying both individual urban areas and the rural areas of the nation.
Am I Rural?
Rural Assistance Center
Provides a searchable database to help determine if any city or county within a zip code is rural by specific definitions, eligible for specific rural funding, and/or has a health professional shortage designation.
Defining Rural at the U.S. Census Bureau (PDF - 1,086 KB)
Ratcliffe, Burd, Holder, & Fields (2016)
U.S. Census Bureau
Highlights the history of how the Census Bureau has classified rural areas and discusses current qualifications for rural communities.
Metropolitan and Micropolitan: 2010 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Standards
U.S. Census Bureau (2018)
Provides the U.S. Office of Management and Budget definitions of metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas according to published standards that are applied to Census Bureau data.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (2016)
Presents the classifications of nonmetro counties, including open countryside, rural towns, and urban areas.
Rural Definitions–National and State Indicator Tables
U.S. Department of Agriculture (2016)
Compares nine varying definitions of basic population and social data.