Failure to Thrive? Poverty in Rural Communities in the United States

Catherine Talbot , University of Colorado Boulder

In the United States, over 70 percent of the nation’s land is rural, but home to only 14 percent of the population. Understanding patterns of demographic change is important as rural residents face challenges due to the demographic and economic makeup of their communities. For example; outmigration of young adults, low rates of educational attainment, and greater distances to employment. Rural residents are more likely to live below the poverty line than their urban counterparts. Economic models suggest that high poverty rates are associated with population loss. However, not all communities with high poverty rates experience population loss. This study explores the connection between rural poverty and population change, and further examines the roles of metro proximity and community educational levels in mediating the population-poverty association. This work has potentially important policy implications; understanding the trajectories of small, rural communities is vital to the development of rural economic development policy.

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 Presented in Session 98. The Changing Demography of Rural Areas