Saturday, December 12, 2009

Prosperity in the Heartland

A recent study at the University of Illinois found that much of rural America is actually prosperous. What accounts for their flourishing? Family ties and civic-minded churches, says the blogger at First Things, at Green Acres is the Place to be. I receive regular newsletters from the U. of I. on research, but must have missed this one of a few days ago.
    "Why Some Rural Places Prosper and Others Do Not" was coauthored by Andrew Isserman, Edward Feser, and Drake Warren and published in the International Regional Science Review in July 2009.

    Counties in America's Heartland came out on top with half its rural counties prospering. USDA defines the Heartland as Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa and parts of six adjacent states.

    In the Southeast and Southwest, fewer than one in twenty rural counties prosper.

    Prosperous rural counties have more off-farm jobs, more educated populations, and less income inequality than other rural counties. Geographical factors like climate, topography, distances to cities and airports, and interstate highways are unimportant in distinguishing prosperous counties from others.

    "Instead, the results supported what many rural people believe to be true—civically engaged religious groups and a common ancestry can really matter," Isserman said.
Interstate highways and airports not so much. Hmmm. Go tell that to the pork fed Congress that never misses an opportunity for naming. From reading the press release it doesn't look like the scholars will pursue faith and shared values as a reason for prosperity--plan to dig deeper on the lack of prosperity in those counties with high minority populations.

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