Research & Books

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Study: Impact of education on civic engagement in rural and urban Canada 2003

People who live in rural areas of Canada were more likely to devote time to volunteer work than their urban counterparts in 2003, regardless of their level of education, according to a new study.

The study found that the association between education and volunteering was stronger in Canada's rural areas.
In rural areas nationwide, 63% of people with a university degree reported that they had done some volunteering in 2003. This was 2.2 times higher than the proportion of 29% among those without a high school diploma.

n contrast, in urban areas, 42% of university degree holders did some volunteering. This was only 1.8 times higher than the proportion of 24% among those who did not complete high school.The study used data from Statistics Canada's General Social Survey to examine the impact of the rural or urban setting on four indicators of civic engagement and social participation and how this impact varies with the level of education.

The study probed an apparent contradiction. Educational attainment is relatively lower in rural areas and lower education levels are almost always associated with significantly lower levels of civic engagement. Despite this, rural areas do not experience lower levels of civic engagement than urban areas.

The study revealed two different dynamics. Individuals with a university degree were more likely to be engaged civically if they lived in rural areas. While there are proportionally fewer university degree holders in rural Canada, they contribute more than would be expected from them if they followed the behaviour patterns of the "average" university degree holder.
However, it also appears that individuals with less than a university degree (but with at least a high school diploma) are in some ways picking up the slack. Individuals who had a high school diploma and a college certificate/diploma were more likely to be engaged civically if they lived in rural areas.

In terms of participation in an organization, 67% of Canada's most rural residents with a college certificate or diploma reported that they were a member of an organization, compared to 55% of those living in urban areas.

In rural areas that were close to an urban centre, close to four out of five university degree holders were members or participants in at least one organization. This was the highest participation rate of any group.

In Canada's most rural areas, 84% of university degree holders engaged in at least one type of non-voting political activity in 2003. This was 2.3 times the proportion of only 37% among those without a high school diploma.

In contrast, 71% of urban degree holders engaged in non-voting political activity. This was 1.9 times greater than those urban residents without a high school diploma (37%).

Residents of Canada's most rural areas were more likely to have attended a public meeting no matter what their level of education was. Further, the gap between rural and urban residents was similar at all levels of educational attainment.

Higher rates of attendance at public meetings are more characteristic of rural areas than of urban places. Residents of the most rural areas who had a high school diploma as their highest level of educational attainment were about as likely to have attended a public meeting as their urban counterparts who had a university degree.

The article "The influence of education on civic engagement: Differences across Canada's rural-urban spectrum," is now available in the publication Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin, Vol. 7, no. 1 (21-006-XIE, free) from the Our Products and Services page on our website.

For more information or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Neil Rothwell (613-951-3719;, Agriculture Division.

Global Development of Organic Agriculture: Challenges and Prospects
Edited by N Halberg, H F Alroe, M T Knudse, and E S Kristensen, Danish Centre for Organic Farming, Denmark
This book provides an overview of the potential role of organic agriculture in a global perspective. The book discusses in-depth political ecology, ecological justice, ecological economics and free trade with new insights on the challenges for organic agriculture. This is followed by the potential role of organic agriculture for improving soil fertility, nutrient cycling and food security and reducing veterinary medicine use, together with discussions of research needs and the importance of non-certified organic agriculture.

April 2006 384 pages Hardback 1 84593 078 9 £55.00 (US$100.00)

For more information, including table of contents go to:

Development with Identity: Community, Culture and Sustainability in the Andes
Edited by R E Rhoades, University of Georgia, USA

This book reports on a 6 year interdisciplinary research project on natural resource management in Cotacachi, Ecuador, where scientists and indigenous groups learnt to seek common ground. The book discusses how local people and the environment have engaged each other over time to create contemporary Andean landscapes. It also explores human-environment interaction in relation to biodiversity, soils and water, and equitable development. This book will be of significant interest to sociologists, anthropologists, economists and sustainability scientists researching environment and agriculture in rural communities.

April 2006 352 pages Hardback 0 85199 949 2 £65.00 (US$120.00)

For more information, including table of contents go to:

Rural Gender Relations: Issues and Case Studies

Edited by B Bock, Wageningen University, The Netherlands and S Shortall, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland

This exciting new book brings together renowned international scholars to explore the gender effects of the current transformation of agriculture and rural life. It presents a comparative perspective on key research themes of rural gender relations, with each section beginning with a comprehensive overview. Five themes are addressed: developments in rural gender theory and research methodology; changes in farm households; patterns of rural migration; the impact of national and international policies; and the construction of gender identities as a result of rural changes. Contributors include scholars from Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

CABI Publishing 384 pages Hardback 0 85199 030 4 £55.00 / $100.00

For more information, including table of contents go to:

Rural Change and Sustainability: Agriculture, the Environment and Communities
Edited by S J Essex, University of Plymouth, UK, A W Gilg, University of Exeter, R Yarwood, University of Plymouth, UK
This book draws upon selected, revised and edited papers from a conference of rural geographers from the UK, USA and Canada, held at the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter. It focuses on rural regions, which are facing conflicting demands, pressures and challenges, which themselves have far-reaching implications for rural space and society. Themes that occur throughout the book include agricultural change, environmental issues, rural communities, governance and globalization, and rural responses to these.

CABI Publishing HB 380 pages ISBN 0 85199 082 7 £65.00 (US$120.00)

For more information about the book or to order immediately online, go to:


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