What Kinds of Places Attract and Sustain Amish Populations?

Rural Sociology

Anderson, Cory, and Loren Kenda. 2015.


Research Points
  • Amish tend to settle in low-density rural areas with low population growth/density, proximity to small towns, inexpensive farmland with moderate topography, and within historic Amish settlement regions of the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern U.S.
  • Amish settle in counties with 60 people per square mile on average. However, density does not significantly predict settlement survival.
  • 50% of settlements are established near towns of 2,500-5,000 people. Settlements survive longer the farther they are from large population centers (each additional mile increases survival odds by 11%, p>.01).
  • New settlements are an average of 27 miles from existing settlements, versus 40 miles for extinct settlements.
  • Greater distance from existing Amish settlements and higher county population growth rates increase chances of community extinction
  • Settlements within 10 miles of an existing settlement have 94% higher odds of survival (p>.10).
  • Each 10 additional miles decreases survival odds by 10% (p>.01).
  • Every 1% increase in county growth rate decreases odds of settlement survival by 92%.
  • Some factors like smaller farm sizes and lower prices are attracting Amish but do not significantly predict community survival
  • Average farm size in settled counties is around 225-250 acres, well below national averages of 400-500 acres.
  • Average farmland prices in settled counties range from $1,400-$2,600 per acre.
  • The Amish are repopulating stagnant/declining rural areas unlike amenity-driven growth, representing an unusual source for rural revitalization; new settlements also hold implications for transportation, land use conflicts, and social changes.

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