What is Rural?

Unfortunately, there is not one universally accepted definition of “rural.”  To some, “rural” is a subjective state of mind and to others “rural” is an objective quantitative measure.  The Alabama Rural Health Association (ARHA) recognizes that there are rural areas in all 67 Alabama counties, even those counties which are unquestionably urban in population.

For analytical purposes, ARHA desires a classification of areas as being “rural” or “urban” at the county level.  This is because most data is not available at sub-county levels, but is available at the county level.  Prior to June 2003, ARHA used the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) classification of counties as being in or not in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in identifying rural or urban status.  Those counties which were included in MSAs were classified as “urban” and those which were not in MSAs were classified as “rural.”  A re-determination of counties included in MSAs was announced by OMB in June 2003 and several Alabama counties which must be regarded as being “rural” were included in MSAs in this re-determination.  This made the development of a more acceptable method for classifying counties as “rural” or “urban” necessary.

Alabama Rural Health Association’s Definition of Rural

The Alabama Rural Health Association has set a definition of rural that accounts for multiple population and geographical factors.  Click here to view the approved definition for Alabama of rural.


Determine Whether You Are Rural

The Rural Assistance Hub has developed a form that allows specific areas to determine if they are rural based on their street address or ZIP code.  Click here to access this form and to determine if you are rural based on the various set of federal designations.


Analysis of Urban vs. Rural

Click here to view a full analysis of health data with regard to urban vs. rural trends.