Rural Poverty & Well-being


ERS research in this topic area focuses on the economic, social, spatial, and demographic factors that affect the income and poverty status of rural residents. ( Food and nutrition assistance topics are covered in depth elsewhere on the ERS website.)

Topics include the following:

  • Overview of rural poverty, including an historical look at poverty rates, child poverty, and deep poverty.
  • The geography of poverty, including analysis of poverty in a regional context, maps of the incidence/severity of poverty, and the geographic persistence of poverty over decades.
  • The demographics of poverty, including the breakdown of rural/urban poverty by race, family structure, and age.
  • Child poverty, including analysis of their poverty by age and depth, family type, region, race/ethnicity, and county-level geography.
  • Income of rural/urban residents, including recent trends in real median household income.

A summary of rural poverty and income topics (among other rural issues) is found in the Rural America at a Glance series, updated in the fall each year. See the latest report in the series:

Last updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2017

For more information contact: Tracey Farrigan and Thomas Hertz

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