Poverty: A Human Resource-Income Maintenance Perspective
Stephen F. Seninger Timothy M. Smeeding
Fourteen years ago, the President's National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty ( 1967) published its report, The People Left Behind. At that time fully one-half of all poor Americans lived in nonmetro areas, although only one in three of all (poor and nonpoor) Americans lived in such places. By 1977--the latest year for which data are available--the percentage of the poor in nonmetro areas had decreased to 40 percent although the proportion of all Americans living in rural places remained at about one- third. Between 1959 and 1977 the nonmetro poverty rate dropped 58 percent (from 33.2 to 13.9 percent) as compared to only a 32 percent decline in metro poverty rates as illustrated in Table 10.1.
However, such signs of progress against nonmetro poverty must be tempered by other less encouraging observations. The poverty rate in nonmetro America (13.9 percent) is still one-third higher than the poverty rate in metro areas (10.4 percent), and the poverty income gap (the difference between income and the poverty threshold) is greater for the nonmetro poor than for the metro poor. The large decline in poverty in nonmetro areas (and in contrast the less rapid decline in central city poverty) over this____________________
This research was supported in part by funds granted to the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare pursuant to the provisions of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Helpful comments on an earlier draft were made by William Alonso, David L. Brown, Sheldon Danziger, Garth Magnum, and Peter Morrison. We would also like to thank Kate Samolyk, Marian Lewin, Richard Anderson, and especially Nancy Williamson for the valuable research and computational assistance, and Catherine Ersland for typing and patience.