Rural hospitals and the local economy: a needed extension and refinement of existing empirical research

J Rural Health. 1999 Spring;15(2):189-201. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.1999.tb00739.x.


The relationship between the health care sector and the rural economy is of increasing importance. Much additional research is needed to fully understand this relationship and to address some of the limitations of the modest amount of research that already exists. In this study, data from Nebraska were used to create a four-part typology of rural hospitals. Input-output analysis was used to assess the economic effects of each type of hospital on the local economy and to simulate the effects of three different changes or scenarios: an increase or decrease in hospital utilization; the elimination of local purchases of nonlabor inputs; and a change in the mix or configuration of services provided. While the hospital is an important contributor to local economies, this contribution is not constant across hospital types. The total job-related effects ranged from 77 jobs for the smallest type of rural hospital to 1,332 for the largest type. Service and trade (retail plus wholesale) are the two sectors of the local economy most heavily influenced by the presence of a hospital. In today's changing and challenging environment, there is a great need for researchers to create and evaluate the economic effects of a variety of relevant and realistic scenarios (other than hospital closure).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Community-Institutional Relations / economics*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Sector
  • Health Facility Closure / economics
  • Health Services Research
  • Hospital Restructuring / economics
  • Hospitals, Rural / economics*
  • Hospitals, Rural / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Econometric
  • Nebraska
  • Workforce