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Policy Brief Explores Nation’s Growing Divide Between Rich and Poor

Posted: October 28, 2013

“National Trends in Income Inequality” is the topic of a policy brief issued this month by the National Agricultural and Rural Development Policy Center (NARDeP). The two-page brief explores the growing gap between rich and poor, and examines differences in income inequality between rural and urban populations.
“National Trends in Income Inequality” is the topic of a policy brief issued this month by the National Agricultural and Rural Development Policy Center (NARDeP).

“National Trends in Income Inequality” is the topic of a policy brief issued this month by the National Agricultural and Rural Development Policy Center (NARDeP).

“For the last forty years, the gap between rich and poor has been growing steadily,” said Scott Albrecht, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland and author of the brief. “By any measure, the richest Americans are growing their incomes at a much higher rate than the rest of the population, and this inequality is especially pronounced in urban areas.”

The brief attributes the larger income gap in urban areas to the sheer amount of wealth that is concentrated in cities. “Income inequality in metro households is more strongly influenced by the fact that the majority of the richest Americans live in cities,” explained Albrecht. “On the other hand, income inequality in rural areas is more tied to poverty, where the poor are isolated from the wealth-generating economic opportunities that are concentrated in cities.”

 The brief makes a case for improving internet connectivity in rural areas and investing in technological training opportunities, so that the rural poor can more easily access and compete in an economy that is increasingly urban and global.

“National Trends in Income Inequality” is the latest in a series of NARDeP policy briefs that explore the increasingly contentious and complex agricultural and rural development issues facing the US, and is available online at the NARDeP website, along with all the briefs in the series.

NARDeP was organized in 2012 by the four US Regional Rural Development Centers and is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) under a competitive grant (Number 2012-70002-19385). A virtual center based at Penn State University, it engages land-grant universities as well as national organizations, agencies, and experts to develop and deliver timely policy-relevant information around signature areas identified by its advisory boards. More information about NARDeP is available at www.nardep.info.

CONTACTS:

  • Scott Albrecht, University of Maryland: sbrick@umd.edu, (301) 405-6393