Upjohn Institute Press

Pages: 376
Year Published: 
2006
$56.00 cloth
ISBN: 978-0-88099-287-9
$22.00 paper
ISBN: 978-0-88099-286-2

The Geography of American Poverty: Is There a Need for Place-Based Policies?

Mark D. Partridge and Dan S. Rickman

Partridge and Rickman explore the wide geographic disparities in poverty across the United States. Their focus on the spatial dimensions of U.S. poverty reveals distinct differences across states, metropolitan areas, and counties and leads them to consider why antipoverty policies have succeeded in some places and failed in others.

In assessing poverty, they explore the underlying spatial, demographic, and economic contributors to poverty rates and examine the spatial variation of state and county poverty rates and their trends over time. They find that poverty rates remain remarkably consistent—areas that had high poverty rates in the 1950s tend to have high poverty rates today. Their study includes a statistical assessment of the determinants of state poverty rates, focusing on the roles of economic growth and state public welfare policies. Included are case studies of four states, which confirm the results of their statistical analysis.

Partridge and Rickman conclude that a unique combination of place-based and person-based policies is needed to help defeat poverty in the most distressed American central cities and remote high-poverty rural communities, and they develop a set of policy recommendations to ensure that job creation efforts benefit the poor, the intended beneficiaries. Overall, they call for a more integrated national poverty reduction strategy that recognizes that "one size doesn't fit all."


"This clear and well-organized book is important reading for anyone interested in poverty policy or labor markets and economic well-being. While the book is pitched to the involved researcher, it is also accessible to non-specialists, partly because the authors have placed so much of the technical material in the appendix and in sidebars, and partly because they conclude each chapter with a long list of bulletted points that summarize the statistical analyses." –Industrial and Labor Relations Review

"This book makes an important contribution to the debate on place-based versus person-based policies. Because the focus is on reducing poverty, rather than reducing poverty concentration or improving the overall economic health of declining areas, it approaches the question from a unique and valuable perpsective. The most important insight is that space matters: economic geography is likely to influence the success of local economic development as a poverty reduction tool. Policymakers, take note." –Journal of Regional Science

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