The Iowa Small Towns Project is an integrated research and extension effort to better understand the conditions and issues facing small Midwestern communities in the 21st century. Since 1994, residents living in 99 Iowa small towns have been surveyed to learn about their assessment of local services and amenities, social conditions, participation in local organizations, and perceptions of local quality of life. To our knowledge, no other project examines aspects of community life for such a large number of small towns over two decades. This allows us to provide truly unique insights into the changes occurring in small towns across Iowa and the Midwest. The project has been supported by grants from USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, with continuing support is provided by Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Department of Sociology.



NSF awards grant to study impacts and responses to COVID-19 in Iowa small towns.
NSF awards $1.5 million grant to study smart shrinkage using ISTP data
“Why leadership styles matter in rural Iowa.” ISU News Service
“In Iowa, Small Towns With Declining Populations Learn To 'Shrink Smart'.” Here and Now NPR
“Child care centers, coffee shops and other projects helping rural Kansas towns ‘shrink smart’.” Lawrence Journal-World
"What Rural Kansas Child Care And Cafes Say About Shrinking Smart, Rather Than Withering.” Kansas City Public Radio
“Shrink Smart is a new model for communities that are losing people. Could it work in the Quad-City area?” Quad-City Times
“The Best Way To Rejuvenate Rural America? Invest In Rural America.” Forbes

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“Is Social Capital as a Determinant of Community Attachment?” Sociological Spectrum
“Is Community Attachment a Determinant of Actual Migration? An Estimate of the Social Capital, Linear‐Development, and Systemic Approaches.” Social Science Quarterly 
"Trust and White Ethnic Diversity in Small Town Iowa." Sociological Quarterly
Community Resiliency in Declining Small Towns: Impact of Population Loss on Quality of Life over 20 Years.” Rural Sociology
“Community Entitativity and Civic Engagement.” City and Community
“White Ethnic Diversity in Small Town Iowa: A Multilevel Analysis of Community Attachment.” Rural Sociology 
“Using Entrepreneurial Social Infrastructure to Understand Smart Shrinkage in Small Towns.” Journal of Rural Studies
“Making Sense of Community Action and Voluntary Participation—A Multilevel Test of Multilevel Hypotheses: Do Communities Act?” Rural Sociology

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