Lack of good broadband access is a strong predictor of childhood poverty: true in MN too?

Steven Ross at Broadband Communities has taken a deep dive into broadband and children in poverty and kids who take more than four years to complete school (or education). He looks at the top and bottom counties in each state in aggregate, he found…

Lack of good broadband access is a strong predictor of childhood poverty. That’s the finding of Broadband Communities’ recent analysis combining county-level broadband data it has collected since 2010 with comprehensive, county-level poverty data compiled by the nonprofit organization Save the Children.

These are pre-COVID numbers but he ascertains that the situation is likely worse now…

All data in this article refers to a pre-COVID United States, but broadband disparities now are even worse than they were at the start of 2020 given work-from-home and distance-learning demands brought on by the pandemic. In urban areas where access is available but not always affordable, providers usually have made it available free or at low cost during the COVID-19 lockdown. Almost half of all rural homes have no broadband at any price.

Ross goes on to look at rural versus metro and other interesting factors, but I’m always interested in the Minnesota perspective. So I’m taking a deeper dive based on his study. Because we have local mapping, I have used those rankings (25/3 and 100/20) to look at broadband. And I found percentage of children in poverty a little differently; I used SAIPE State and County Estimates for 2018 (same year as Ross) and their percentage of children (0-17) in poverty. I can pretend this was a check and balance but really it was an easier way to get very similar info with less math for me.

I looked at the top and lowest broadband ranking counties and it aligns with Ross’s work. The top counties had average lower poverty rates and the top counties with faster broadbnd (100/20 vs 25/3) had the lowest averate rates:

  1. Top 10 counties for broadband (100/20), the average poverty rate is 13.54 percent
  2. Bottom 10 counties for broadband (100/20), the average poverty rate is 16 percent
  3. Top 10 counties for broadband (25/3), the average poverty rate is 14.85 percent
  4. Bottom 10 counties for broadband (25/3), the average poverty rate is 16.47 percent
  5. The state poverty rate is 18 percent

I’ve included a table below that compares the broadband coverage and poverty rate. To get some broad swth view, I’ve highlighted in yellow the lower half of the poverty rates and the higher percentages of broadband coverage. So you’d like to see your county come up all yellow.

As Ross points out in his report, this doesn’t tell us cause or effect but there does seem to be a connection.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN, Research, uncategorized by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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