Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Charles C. Warfield

Second Advisor

Dr. James R. Sanders

Third Advisor

Dr. Lewis Walker


This study compares youth living environment in small and large communities in Michigan. The comparison includes three areas of youth living environment: community environment, financial environment, and educational environment. Community in this study is defined as school district. Data are extracted from an existing database developed by the National Center for Educational Statistics titled School District Data Book (SDDB). Out of 560 Michigan school districts included in SDDB, 370 are used in the data analysis, excluding the Detroit City School District and 189 medium-sized districts. Fifteen variables are selected for comparison, categorized under the three areas of youth environment. The findings indicate that there is no difference between small and large communities in Michigan regarding dropout rate, at-risk children rate, student/teacher ratio, and enrollment rate. This study also finds that disadvantages existing in small communities include lower house unit value, lower percentage of people in the labor force, lower household and per capita income, lower total revenue and expenditure per student, lower percentage of people holding a bachelor’s degree, higher unemployment rate, higher percentage of children under the poverty level, and higher percentage of households with public assistance, compared to those variables in large communities. The only advantage found in small communities is that they have achieved a greater high school graduation rate than large communities.

An important implication of this study is that when dealing with problems of dropout rate, at-risk children rate, and enrollment rate, small and large communities should be treated the same. Another implication is that youth programs should be created in small communities, where a major disadvantage for youth is lack of resources. As for large communities, available resources should be used to better serve the needs of youth. Based on the finding that small communities do have a greater high school graduation rate but a much lower advanced degree holder rate, the third but not the final implication from this study is that options should be provided for kids who do not aspire to higher education, in addition to helping maximize the number of youth in small communities who can benefit from higher education.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access