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Poverty and Human Services

Much progress has been made since the Presidentís National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty issued The People Left Behind in 1967. However, over 7 million people still live in poverty in rural areas, and poverty is deep and persistent in several regions of our nation. While poverty is not just a rural phenomenon, remote and persistently poor rural counties bear a disproportionate share of our nationís poverty burden.

Poverty rates are higher and more persistent in nonmetropolitan than in metropolitan areas. Along a continuum of the most urban county to the most rural county, poverty rates are highest in the most remote rural areas. High poverty and persistent poverty counties are disproportionately rural as well. Of the 386 persistent poverty counties, 88 percent of them are rural. And they are geographically concentrated - in Appalachia, the southeast and Mississippi Delta, the Rio Grande Valley, and Indian Reservations in the Great Plains and Southwest.

Many factors contribute to the high levels and persistence of poverty in rural areas. Factors such as the loss of young, highly educated workers, economic structures that include limited opportunities or low wage occupations vulnerabilities to business cycles, as well as unique characteristics of rural places all contribute to the challenges of alleviating rural poverty.

Rural Human Services Panel

Through support from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy in the Department of Health and Human Services, RUPRI has formed a Rural Human Services Panel. This Panel has resumed some aspects of the work of the Rural Poverty Research Center, but has assumed a focus toward broader rural human services issues, and the importance of integrated health and human services in rural areas.

There are always challenges to rural human service delivery, but the current economic crisis has brought much additional demand and pressure on rural human service providers. The RUPRI Rural Human Services Panel is creating timely research and policy tools to assist in meeting these challenges.

Rural Human Services Panel Webpage

The Rural Poverty Research Center

From 2002 through 2005, RUPRI operated the Rural Poverty Research Center through a grant from the US Department of Health & Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning & Evaluation. The Center worked to examine both the causes and consequences of poverty in rural areas and the factors affecting the success of policies to improve the self sufficiency and well-being of low income workers and families in rural America.

In April 2004, RUPRI hosted a national conference, Place Matters: The Importance of Place in Poverty Research and Policy.  Click here for a summary of this conference.

Perspectives on Poverty, Policy, and Place: The Newsletter of the Rural Poverty Research Center
Click here for an archive of the newsletter.

Click here for the Winter 08-09 special issue of Perspectives, focused on human services in rural America.

RPRC Working Papers
Click here for an archive of RPRC Working Papers


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