Determinants of Appalachia's Persistent Poverty

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Appalachia, poverty


Appalachians have lower wages, employment rates, and educational attainment than residents elsewhere in the country in each decennial Census since 1940, when schooling and wage information was first collected. Despite educational gains and large federal outlays since the late 1960s, the wage gap has slightly increased over this period from 19 log points in 1940 to 23 in 2000. This level of disadvantage is on par with other studied groups including women (Blau & Kahn, 1997), blacks (Juhn, Murphy, and Pierce, 1991), and Mexican-Americans (Trejo, 1997). Decompositions of the wage gap show faster educational rowth outside of the region increases the wage gap from 1940 to 1970. Increasing returns to both observable and unobservable skill, rising income inequality, and unfavorable demand shocks to low-skilled Appalachian labor increases the wage gap from 1980 to 2000.

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