Income disparities have increased in recent decades, producing an “age of extremes” in which resources are concentrated among a selective segment of the population. This issue is well-studied at the national level, but there has been less attention to inequality sub-nationally, including among rural places. We address this gap, with the goal of understanding recent income inequality dynamics in non-metropolitan U.S. counties. We analyze data from the U.S. Census Bureau to describe and map levels of within-county income inequality in 2016, comparing non-metropolitan and metropolitan counties and analyzing differences among rural counties. We then describe and compare the demographic profile of high- and low-inequality non-metropolitan counties to determine whether and how the populations exposed to such places vary. Finally, we analyze changes in these patterns since 1970. Preliminary analyses indicate that within-county inequality is higher in non-metropolitan than metropolitan counties. However, these analyses also reveal evidence of convergence over time.
Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality