Nearly 50 million Americans live in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) areas, as currently defined.... Several demographic trends are reshaping economic and social conditions across nonmetro counties.... Racial and ethnic minorities now make up 18.3 percent of nonmetro residents and are geographically dispersed throughout the Nation.
The higher concentration of rural elderly is due to a persistent pattern of net outmigration among rural youth. In almost all settings, the propensity to migrate is highest among individuals ages 20-30, and rural-to-urban migration among young adults always outnumbers its counterstream. Outmigration rates peaked in the 1950s and 1960s and have fluctuated since then, but even during periods of above average rural growth such as the 1990s, outmigration exceeded inmigration among young adults.
Rural net inmigration of those 65 and older has also added to a high concentration of elderly, especially during the past decade. However, the impact is not as substantial as the impact of continuous outmigration of young adults. Rural youth outmigration will likely continue to exceed inmigration, but its impact on the share of elderly is diminishing because the numbers and rates of rural outmigration are much lower than in the past.
source: [usda] and [usda]