Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Economics and Finance


B. Delworth Gardner


Census data reveal that the percentage of farm operators in the United States that live off-farm is increasing. It has been suggested that this may be due largely to a shifting of residence off-farm. An analysis of factors influencing residence of farm families has been done at the national level. In addition, a cross section analysis of county data within states has been attempted. However, a purely local analysis is needed to pick up the variation obscured by aggregate data. The purpose of this study is to identify and evaluate variables that might be expected to influence residence location, and to determine to what extent residence shifting is actually occuring.

A theoretical model was developed to facilitate identification of variables that might be expected to influence place of residence of farm families. The model utilizes the concept of utility and postulates casual relationships between certain independent variables and farm family residence. No attempt is made to estimate parameters that establish a statistical relationship between independent variables and utility since utility is nonquantifiable. Rather, the model is utilized to logically deduce what variables might be expected to differentially affect residence on- and off-farm. The statistical tests of significance of the variables consists of determining whether there is a significant difference between on- and off-farm residers with respect to the variables in question. In order to meet the data demands of the study, a random sample of farm families living on- and off-farm were interviewed.

Two basic procedures were used in analyzing the data. Initially, all variables were tested individually by analysis of variance and independence of chi-square tests. Next, the variables were entered into a discriminant function to ascertain if there was some linear combination of all variables taken compositely that successfully discriminates between on- and off-farm residers. The ability of the functions to accurately predict group membership was encouraging, suggesting possible future use in identifying farm families most likely to shift residence.

Despite the fact that the percentage of farm operators residing off-farm in the two counties under study has been increasing, this study failed to reveal a trend to shifting residence off-farm. Rather, it appears that the increase is largely a result of farm operators entering agriculture from the off-farm sector. It is recognized, however, that Utah may not be typical of the nation as a whole, and residence shifting may be taking place in many areas of the United States.

In conclusion, definite statements regarding the influence of the variables, that showed significance, on residence shifts would be hazardous since very little shifting has occured. Interpretations must be couched within the framework of different patterns of living due to residence location rather than a framework of residence shifts due to different patterns of living. In other words, the analysis has more relevance to residence choice than to other residence shifts.

Included in

Economics Commons