Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Child poverty has gotten more rural in last 30 years

The number of rural counties with persistent high child poverty rates increased from 43 percent in 1980 to 64 percent in 2010, with many clustered in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, the Black Belt, the Ozarks, Indian resrervations and other parts of the Southwest, says a study by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Overall, 58 percent of U.S. counties had high child poverty rates in 2010, including 47 percent of urban counties. (Carsey map: Persistent child poverty counties from 1980 to 2010; some of the blue metropolitan counties are primarily rural)
"Only 14.3 percent of the total child population resides in a rural county, but these counties contain 17.2 percent of the nation’s poor children," states the report. "More than three-quarters of counties with persistent high child poverty have a substantial minority child population. Child poverty rates are dramatically lower for non-Hispanic white than for minority children regardless of the racial-ethnic composition of the county in which they live."

The percentage of rural counties with high child poverty increased steadily over the 30-year period. Urban child poverty fluctuated, most recently during the Great Recession. The study looked at persistent high-poverty counties "where the poverty rate for children was 20 percent or greater for the past three decades," Tim Marema reports for the Daily Yonder. "About a quarter of all U.S. counties fit that category. Three quarters of those counties are rural." Study authors Andrew Schaefer, Marybeth J. Mattingly and Kenneth M. Johnson wrote: “The overwhelming focus of welfare programs in the United States is urban. ... Any national discussion of child poverty must address the challenges faced by children living in isolated rural areas.”

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