In The Long Run

Per capita government transfer payments to individuals are rising faster in nonmetro areas than in metro areas

Government transfer payments to individuals increased steadily in both metro and nonmetro areas between 1969 and 2004. In 2004, payments in nonmetro areas averaged $5,238 while payments in metro areas averaged $4,515 per person. Medical benefits (Medicare and Medicaid) represent the largest component of the increases, rising from 21.2 percent of total transfer payments in 1969 to 45.1 percent in 2004 for metro areas and from 16.4 percent to 43.3 percent for nonmetro areas. The faster increase in government transfer payments in nonmetro areas is mainly due to a higher share of elderly and disabled persons among nonmetro residents.