Brookings recently reported on recent research Rural dreams: Upward mobility in America’s countryside, which looks at which rural areas best led to inter-generational upward mobility…
Certain rural counties have some of the highest mobility rates in the country, while others are “mobility traps,” where children born to disadvantaged circumstances are extremely unlikely to get ahead.
Taking a deeper look at these rural areas, the authors find that counties that had the highest rates of upward mobility also had (among other things):
higher out-migration rates, particularly among youth and young adults,
higher quality K-12 education,
improved measures of family stability,
and stronger local labor markets.
And what can be done to improve upward mobility…
The paper lists three arenas that seem particularly promising for bolstering opportunity in rural America.
Invest in human capital development. Improving K-12 quality in distressed areas will improve young residents’ life prospects and preparedness for adulthood.
Ensure rural communities are equipped with basic 21stcentury infrastructure. Technology such as broadband will enable families and schools in these areas to better connect to distant economies and opportunities.
Invest in family planning.Rural residents are less likely to have access to affordable and quality health care, which makes intentional parenthood all the more difficult.
A key word here is investment.