Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Carole L. Seyfrit

Committee Member

Brian K. Payne

Committee Member

Otto Sampson

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 B76


This study assesses community satisfaction, prodevelopment attitudes, environmental concern and intent to move on Virginia's Eastern Shore, an area that is experiencing population decline, high poverty levels, and competing interests of economic development and environmental concern. Poverty levels on the Eastern Shore differ substantially by race with 35 percent of Blacks compared to 12 percent of Whites living in poverty in 1990. Human capital theory suggests that rural residents, and rural minorities in particular, have lower incomes and more unemployment because they are not increasing their human capital through education and training. A review of previous research led to four hypotheses that predicted that community satisfaction, attitudes toward economic development, environmental concern, and intent to move would vary by race, sex, age, income, education, and length of residency. A 1996 survey mailed to a 10 percent random sample of Eastern Shore addresses yielded a 51 percent response rate. Results of this study found Blacks had lower levels of community satisfaction than Whites and that the older the respondent, the higher the income of the respondent, and the longer one's residency on the Eastern Shore, the higher one's community satisfaction. Blacks were more likely to be pro-development than Whites and higher income residents were less pro-development. Higher income and higher educated residents had higher levels of environmental concern, while longer-term residents were less concerned about the environment. Being White, older, a long-term resident, or having a higher income decreased the intention to leave the Eastern Shore. Overall, race and income proved to be consistently significant throughout the statistical analyses. This suggests support for the concept of human capital deficit. However, education level did not appear to have the same impact as race and income, suggesting that the human capital theory is not sufficient to explain the differences found. These findings indicate that policy makers trying to balance the competing interests of economic development and environmental concern should take into account the impacts of their decisions on all groups on the Eastern Shore. Economic development should provide job training and opportunities to the rural poor while not adversely affecting the rural environment.


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