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 (expanded to 125 in 2024) 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.



USDA awards $645,000 grant to study how demographic change and COVID-19 impacts rural quality of life.
Bill Northey Public Talk
“What you need to know about Iowa's redistricting process.”  River to River, Iowa Public Radio
“Experts Explain Initial Results From The 2020 U.S. Census And Where Iowans Are Living.”  River to River, Iowa Public Radio
“Growing, and growing more diverse: Some of the most interesting findings in the new census of Iowa.” Des Moines Register
“Des Moines' immigrant population grew by 20,000 people in the last decade.” WOI-TV News
“Census: Iowa Population Grows 4.7%, Keeps 4 US House Seats.” WHO-TV News
NSF awards grant to study impacts and responses to COVID-19 in Iowa small towns.

More News
Rural Iowa at a Glance 2023
Rural Inflation
Impact of COVID-19 in Small Towns
Census 2020 Population by Race
“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

More Publications