Rural Poverty in America

Rural Poverty in America

Rural Poverty in America

Rural Poverty in America

Synopsis

This timely, needed volume focuses on the over 9 million people in the U.S. living in poverty in rural settings. Rural poverty is not confined to one section of the country or to one ethnic group. It is a national problem, and the resolution of hidden America's persistent economic plight will now depend on a better understanding of who is poor and why. This book's clear, authoritative chapters describe the declining opportunities available in rural areas--including the social, educational, and political factors that so often pose barriers to economic advancement.

Excerpt

Susan E. Sechler

The early 1980s brought stagnation and uncertainty to the global economy, and for the United States, once supreme among nations, no prognosis seemed too bleak. In the balance of trade, the national debt, interest rates, the loss of manufacturing, unemployment, the economic explosion of the Pacific Rim, and many other indicators, analysts discerned transformations that pegged the American economy for long-term decline. Industry after industry in which the United States had long enjoyed hegemony seemed suddenly unable to compete at all. And just as suddenly, scholars and pundits were filling the air with all manner of sweeping proposals to arrest the American decline. We need an industrial policy, some proposed, with public investment in key industries, massive research consortiums, and a good dose of Japanese management techniques thrown in for good measure. But what good would that do, other voices argued, without an education policy that took Amercia's kids back to basics, so that they -- and we -- might survive the high-tech competition to come.

Many of us who study the economy of rural America were preoccupied with two phenomena at that time. First, the tremendous forces that were sweeping the economy as a whole in the early 1980s seemed to be wreaking even greater damage and despair in rural America. And second, no one seemed to be taking much notice of the rural situation.

Study after study emerged cataloging the collapse of U.S. manufacturing and the concomitant rise of a flimsier, blurrier "post-industrial" economy, stuck together with high technology and services. When the question arose of where in America these wrenching changes actually were being played out, the stock answers always included allusions to those contrary but serviceable twins, the Rust Belt and the Sun Belt. For dramatic evidence that international capital markets, high interest rates, export-choking exchange rates, or foreign competition were also taking their toll on rural areas, it seemed that one need look no . . .

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