Website Featured Project Summer 2020 - Demographic and family change in shale communities


Title: Demographic and family change in shale communities

Principal Investigator

Michael R. Betz, PhD Associate Professor, Dept. of Human Sciences

Other Investigators

Tasha Snyder PhD, Associate Professor, Dept. of Human Sciences

Project Description

The American energy landscape has been radically transformed by the application of hydraulic fracturing in combination with horizontal. Residents of the mostly non-metro areas where drilling is occurring are experiencing dramatic change in their communities. Rural communities are experiencing demographic changes resulting from an influx of oil and gas workers, most of which are 18-35 year-old males from outside of the community. A second driver of change is an infusion of wealth, mainly from lease and royalty payments made from energy companies to land owners. Many households have received lease payments in excess of $1 million, significant wealth to families that were mostly lower or middle-income prior to shale energy development. Our project aims to create detailed models of demographic changes occurring in shale development communities. We will compare demographic outcomes across different contexts to test whether community characteristics, such as initial population density and proximity to a metropolitan area, impact the effects of shale development on demographic outcomes such as marriage, fertility, human capital development, age structure, and racial composition.  

Recent Publications 

Shepard, M., Betz, M., & Snyder, A. (2019). The shale boom and family structure: Oil and gas employment growth relationship to marriage, divorce, and cohabitation. Rural Sociology.

External Funding

Betz, M. R. & Snyder, A. ($499,435). Shale energy development: A boom or bust for rural families and their communities?.United States Department of Agriculture. April 1, 2018-March 31, 2021.

IPR Seed Grant

2015-2016 "Demographic and family change in shale communities." Institute for Population Research, The Ohio State University. Principal Investigator.