WSU study: Kansas population forecasted to transfer to metro areas

Grant Cohen

Wichita State’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research (CEDBR) saw the need for a study to predict a possible sizeable shift of residents from rural areas to metropolitan areas across the next 50 years in Kansas. 

Senior research economist Mike Busch decided that graduate student Matthew Darrah would be the perfect candidate to conduct this research. 

“We chose to have a student do this research because the center felt this was a great opportunity [to] have a student get hands-on experience working with large amounts of empirical data,” Busch said. “Matthew did great work with the project, and we are very pleased with the outcome.”

According to Busch, the study was designed to forecast the population for each of Kansas’s 105 counties for the next 50 years. The 2014 Kansas population was used as the starting point with projections made from that information.

Each county was divided into age, gender, birth, mortality and migration rates, and were projected until 2064.

The largest increases were in the metropolitan areas and eastern portions of Kansas, according to the study.  Starting in 2014, the study estimates a population increase in metroplitan areas comprised of 69.1 percent of the state’s population. 

Metropolitan areas are estimated to have increased to 80.2 percent of the total population. 

“The key findings are the overall Kansas population is forecast to increase by 633,956 to 3,538,277,” Busch said. “The study also found that more of Kansas’ population is projected to shift to the urban centers in the state, and the state is forecast to have an increasing share of elderly population over the next 50 years.”

CEDBR’s assignment is to enhance Kansas’s regions in economic growth and development. They do this by collecting, analyzing and disseminating business and demographic information and conducting applied business, economic and demographic research, according to the mission statement on the organization’s website. 

CEDBR continues to serve as the most prominent link for Wichita State and the W. Frank Barton School of Business for research between the business and economic development of the community. 

While honoring this task, the center’s director, Jeremy Hill, said the research center will continue to use students for future studies in order to help them gain valuable experience for these amounts of research. 

“The university had the goal of applying the experience to students,” Hill said. “It was to line up the university’s mission and we will continue to do that during the course of the future.”