Rural exodus is a term used to describe the migratory patterns that normally occur in a region following the mechanisation of agriculture. In such a situation, there tends to be a movement of peoples from rural areas into urban areas. This is related to the fact that with mechanization (or any other change in the method of production which increases productivity) fewer people are needed to bring the same amount of agricultural output to market.
The term rural exodus states is used to refer to those American states which are losing their rural populations in this manner. These states tend to be within the Great Plains and have few scenic amenities, along with harsh summers and severe winters.
When people move to rural areas from large towns and cities, they sometimes have unrealistic expectations of local services (e.g. medical and transport facilities), or do not fit in well with the local culture (for example, being less willing to socialize with their neighbors than is the local convention). The term "urban exodus" has been coined by those who perceive this to be a problem. The definition may also include a form of rural gentrification, in which the presence of wealthier immigrants from more populated areas raises property values and housing prices for long-time residents. While this phenomenon might be beneficial for property owners willing to sell at higher prices, it also tends to raise property taxes and make it more difficult for locals to afford housing (of particular concern to low-income residents and renters).
See also: demographic history of the United States, rural sociology