Wealth & Poverty in the United States: A Dynamic Comparative Analysis of Rural Advantage and Disadvantage
This paper presents an assessment of the changing geographies of rural poverty and wealth in the United States over the last three decades. A coherent set of poverty and wealth measures for unchanging geographical areas from 1970 to present are constructed. Those measures are used to statistically describe and econometrically model the dimensions and extent of poverty and wealth for certain populations and sub-groups over the study period, while considering both within and across group distributions as well as associated spatial variation. In so doing, a dynamic analysis of the relationship between income poverty and socio-economic deprivation is conducted as a means to shed light on the differences in poverty estimates over time, given alternative measures of disadvantage, and what that suggests in relation to wealth. This study not only brings prior analyses on rural poverty and wealth in the United States up to date, but it also furthers our understanding of well being by incorporating new and emerging national and international perspectives on what it means to be poor in Western nations into the analysis. Integration of those perspectives into U.S. poverty research requires the adoption of a broader definition of poverty than is traditionally considered. That is, a multi-dimensional definition that emphasizes cross-cutting issues (e.g., access to services, economic capability, geographic imbalances, security and empowerment) and a less stringent stance on the role of different actors (i.e. the market, the State, and civil society) and how they interact with one another. As such, this study produces information that is valuable to a vast array of decision makers seeking to design and target rural development programs and pro-poor policies more effectively.
Keywords: Wealth, Poverty, Rural, Disadvantage
Dr. Tracey Farrigan
Geographer, Farm and Rural Household Well-Being Branch