- José D. Pacas and Elizabeth E. Davis
- December 2018
- Link to Focus-34-3b (PDF)
- Link to Focus-Plus-34-3 (PDF)
This article seeks to shed new light on rural poverty. Specifically, we look at poverty dynamics (poverty entries and exits) among urban and rural families over the past two decades, using newly available historical estimates of the Supplemental Poverty Measure beginning in 1995. While there are established literatures examining rural poverty and poverty dynamics, studies that combine the two are uncommon. In this article, we construct two-year panels over which we can identify poverty entries and exits. In exploring the causes of these short-term poverty transitions, we focus on the role of resource changes (that is, changes to the cash and noncash resources available for a family to spend on food, clothing, shelter, and utilities) rather than on family composition changes (that is, changes to family makeup such as through divorce, birth, death, or repartnering). We draw on recent work showing that poverty transitions are driven by the resource change that accompanies a family composition change rather than the family composition change itself. That is, holding income constant, changes in family composition do not have a large effect on poverty transitions.