Publications

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  • The Diverse Social and Economic Structure of Nonmetropolitan America

    RDRR-49, September 18, 1985

    Effective rural development planning depends on facts and analysis based, not on national rural averages, but on the diverse social and economic structure of rural America. Programs tailored to particular types of rural economies may be more effective than a generalized program. This study identifies seven distinct types of rural counties according to their major economic base, presence of federally owned land, or population characteristics: (1) counties depending heavily on farming, (2) counties depending heavily on manufacturing, (3) mining counties with economic based principally on natural resources, (4) counties specializing in government functions, (5) persistent poverty counties, (6) Federal lands counties, and (7) retirement settlements. Because of these unique characteristics, government policies and economic trends may affect these county groups in quite different ways.

  • Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Rural Areas: Progress and Stagnation

    AER-731, August 01, 1996

    Rural minorities lag behind rural Whites and urban minorities on many crucial economic and social measures. This report examines rural Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian and Pacific Islander populations and their economic well-being in the 1980's, an economically difficult decade for rural areas. Results show minimal minority progress as measured by changes in occupation, income, and poverty rates. However, the type and speed of progress was quite different among minority groups and between men and women of the same minority group. Results showed considerable diversity among groups in the characteristics that were associated with poor economic outcomes.

  • Issues in Rural Health: How Will Measures to Control Medicare Spending Affect Rural Communities?

    AIB-734, March 01, 1997

    The Federal Medicare program provides subsidized health insurance for one in every seven Americans. Medicare covers a higher proportion of rural than urban residents because rural residents are more likely to be elderly or disabled persons entitled to benefits. The rapid growth of Medicare expenditures has prompted legislative proposals to control the increase in spending. This report finds that the proposals may have a greater effect on rural than urban communities due to the higher proportion of Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas.

  • Poverty, Policy, and the Macroeconomy

    TB-1889, February 23, 2001

    This report is an empirical inquiry into how poverty is changed by the macroeconomy. The analysis suggests low real wage rates and not the unemployment rate are the most important determinant of poverty in the long run. Changes in output and unemployment primarily affect cyclical or shortrun poverty. The empirical results weaken the belief that output growth acting alone will significantly and permanently reduce poverty in the United States. Instead, the results suggest combining economic growth strategies with targeted interventions that may lie outside the traditional sphere of monetary and fiscal policy.

  • Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor: Demographics of Low-Income Households

    TB-1898, April 19, 2002

    The economic well-being of the U.S. population with incomes below 130 percent of the official poverty guideline is of special interest to policymakers and food assistance program administrators. For example, the Food Stamp Program uses gross income below this level as one of several criteria for determining eligibility for program benefits. This study employs alternative welfare measures, including the Sen index, to assess the economic status of the food stamp-eligible population and to track changes in welfare status over time. In general, welfare measures of households with income no greater than 130 percent of the poverty line improved slightly between 1981 and 1995. The study also assesses which demographic characteristics that describe low-income households have the largest impact on the welfare measures. This demographic analysis is useful for identifying household types that could merit special attention in designing strategies such as job training or food stamp education and outreach.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-Reforming Welfare: What Does It Mean for Rural Areas?

    FANRR-26-4, June 03, 2002

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act dramatically altered the social safety net for poor Americans, including the 7 million people living in poverty in nonmetro areas. This issue brief examines evidence from recent research about rural-urban differences in welfare reform impacts on program participation, employment, earnings, and poverty and assesses how well welfare reform is working in rural areas.

  • Food Security Assessment GFA14

    GFA-14, February 03, 2003

    This report projects food gaps in 70 low-income developing countries and presents findings for North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union.

  • Rural Welfare Reform: What Have We Learned?

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Since passage of welfare reform act in 1996, welfare and food stamp caseloads have declined substantially, employment and earnings of single mothers have increased, and poverty rates of single mothers have fallen. Still, not all areas of the country are benefiting equally from the legislation.

  • "Digital Divide" Not to Blame for Rural Earnings Shortfall

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    Workers who use computers on the job generally receive higher wages, suggesting that some workers without computer skills or access to computer technology may be disadvantaged. On-the-job computer use is less common in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) areas than in metro areas, and wages for nonmetro, or rural, workers are generally lower. But does lower computer use explain the metro-nonmetro wage gap?

  • Rural Welfare Reform: Lessons Learned

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    With congressional reauthorization of welfare legislation scheduled for 2003, ERS addresses two questions to inform the policy debate surrounding reauthorization: What have we learned from empirical studies about rural-urban differences in welfare reform effects on program participation, employment, and poverty? Do rural and urban low-income families have different needs that might be reflected in the design of policies meant to provide assistance?

  • Nonmetro Poverty: Assessing the Effect of the 1990s

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    This Amber Waves article examines the differences in poverty between U.S. metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas during the 1990s.

  • Dimensions of Child Poverty in Rural Areas

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    An expanding U.S. economy and welfare reform in the 1990s both helped reduce the share of rural children in families living below the poverty rate.

  • Anatomy of Nonmetro High-Poverty Areas: Common in Plight, Distinctive in Nature

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    This article discusses how rural high poverty counties differ across racial and demographic lines. Comparisons are made among and between high poverty counties populated by African Americans, Hispanics, Whites, and Native Americans.

  • Federal Funding for Rural America: Who Get's What?

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    Federal spending and credit programs can revive or sustain rural economies. Overall, rural areas received slightly less funding per capita ($6,020) than urban areas ($6,131) in 2001, but the amount of funding varied greatly by type or function of the program.

  • Persistent Poverty Is More Pervasive in Nonmetro Counties

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    ERS defines counties as being persistently poor if 20 percent or more of their populations were living in poverty over the last 30 years. A majority of the persistent-poverty counties are nonmetro counties located in the South.

  • Rural America At A Glance, 2004

    AIB-793, September 30, 2004

    Rural America At A Glance, 2004 is a six-page brochure that highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas for use in developing policies and programs to assist rural areas. The brochure is the third in a series of reports that uses current social and economic data to highlight population, labor market, income, and poverty trends in rural areas. This brochure provides information on key rural conditions and trends for use by public and private decisionmakers and others in efforts to enhance the economic opportunities and quality of life for rural people and their communities.

  • Supermarket Characteristics and Operating Costs in Low-Income Areas

    AER-839, December 15, 2004

    Whether the poor pay more for food than other income groups is an important question in food price policy research. Stores serving low-income shoppers differ in important ways from stores that receive less of their revenues from Food Stamp redemptions. Stores with more revenues from Food Stamps are generally smaller and older, and offer relatively fewer convenience services for shoppers. They also offer a different mix of products, with a relatively high portion of sales coming from meat and private-label products. Metro stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates lag behind other stores in the adoption of progressive supply chain and human resource practices. Finally, stores with the highest Food Stamp redemption rates have lower sales margins relative to other stores, but have significantly lower payroll costs as a percentage of sales. Overall, operating costs for stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates are not significantly different from those for stores with moderate Food Stamp redemption rates. If the poor do pay more, factors other than operating costs are likely to be the reason.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Body Weight Status

    AIB-796-3, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several measures of body weight status for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor the weight status of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Meal Patterns, Milk and Soft Drink Consumption, and Supplement Use

    AIB-796-4, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Clinic Measures of Iron, Folate, Vitamin B12, Cholesterol, Bone Density, and Lead Poisoning

    AIB-796-5, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. This summary focuses on the nutritional biochemistry blood tests and bone density measures that showed differences between income groups. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.