Rural Development Research Report No. (RDRR-96) 23 pp

June 2003

Comparisons of Metropolitan-Nonmetropolitan Poverty During the 1990's

While the greater incidence of poverty in nonmetro relative to metro areas is well documented, there is little research as to whether it is deeper or more severe in nonmetro areas. This report examines metro-nonmetro differences in U.S. poverty rates, using data from Current Population Surveys (1991-2000) and poverty measures that are sensitive to income distribution. The standard practice of examining only the headcount, or incidence, of poverty provides the expected result that poverty is greater in nonmetro areas in all 10 years of the 1990s. The poverty gap index, which measures the depth of poverty, indicates that the difference in this measure of poverty is statistically significant in 6 of the 10 years. When the squared poverty gap index, a measure of severity, is examined, the estimate of nonmetro poverty is greater than the metro measure in only 3 of the 10 years.

Keywords: poverty, nonmetro, nonmetropolitan, well-being, income, poverty gap, income distribution

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