The Spatial Concentration of America's Rural Poor Population: A Postrecession Update

Brian Thiede, Hyojung Kim, Matthew Valasik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This article examines changes in concentrated poverty in the rural United States between 2000 and 2012. Using data from the decennial census and American Community Survey, we address three main objectives. First, we document changes in the number and share of counties with poverty rates above 20, 30, and 40 percent, stratifying our sample by metropolitan status. Second, we use exploratory spatial methods to identify geographic patterns in county-level poverty dynamics between 2000 and 2012. Third, we estimate the share of the population living in high-poverty counties, and track changes over time and by race and poverty status. Overall, we find a substantial increase in concentrated poverty since 2000. Increases in both the number of high-poverty counties and the share of the population living in these counties were widespread, though spatially and temporally uneven in some cases. We also observe convergence in concentrated poverty between rural and micropolitan areas, and between non-Hispanic white and Hispanic populations. Overall, we observe a reversal of the declines in concentrated poverty that occurred in the 1990s, and find that in many cases this trend began prior to the Great Recession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-144
Number of pages36
JournalRural Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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