RUPRI Scholars, Bruce Weber, and Matt Fannin, and their colleagues, Kathleen Miller and Stephan Goetz, have recently released research that shows that average upward mobility is greater for youth in nonmetropolitan counties than in metropolitan counties. CityLab, a publication of Atlantic Media dedicated to examining life and development in our nation’s cities, featured this work in a series of articles examining the myths and realities of America’s urban-rural divide.
Some Rural Areas Are Better For Economic Mobility
According to Richard Florida in his blog post, “Actually, according to several new studies, kids who grow up in rural areas have a better shot at upward mobility than their peers who live in larger, denser urban areas.
What matters is not just whether a county is urban or rural but how far it is from a large urban or metropolitan center. Yet, close proximity to an urban center does not increase economic mobility, Weber, et al. found.Instead, upward mobility declines with proximity to a major urban center. And, the further away a place is, the higher the economic mobility. In other words, upward mobility is a function of remoteness.”
The studies by Drs. Weber and Fannin and colleagues find that ” the results do provide support for the potentially constructive role of distinctive place‐based policies for both rural and urban areas in enhancing the upward mobility of low‐income youth since the factors that affect non‐metro upward mobility are different from those that affect metro upward mobility. Our results supplement the “main lesson” of the Chetty et al. (2014) analysis with the findings that there are different factors at work in metropolitan and non‐metropolitan places and that specific place‐based policies in rural America may generate additional pathways for the upward income mobility of low‐income youth. ”