Persistent high poverty is most prevalent among children -- with those living in rural America disproportionally affected. In some parts of the country, poverty has persisted for generations -- counties with persistent child poverty cluster in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, other areas of the Southeast, parts of the Southwest and in the Great Plains.
Beth Mattingly, director of research on vulnerable families at the Carsey Institute; Ken Johnson, senior demographer at the institute and a UNH professor of sociology; and Andrew Schaefer, a doctoral student in sociology and research assistant at the institute, analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau from 1980, 1990 and 2000, as well as American Community Survey five-year estimates released in 2009.
"High" child poverty is 20 percent or more of the children living in poverty in a county, while "persistent" poverty is high poverty rates in three consecutive decades -- the '80s, '90s and 2000-09, researchers said.
The study found:
-- Prior to the recession, 61 percent of persistent child poverty counties had more than 30 percent of children living in poverty. Today it is 68 percent.
-- 81 percent of counties with persistent poverty are non-metropolitan while only 65 percent of all U.S. counties are non-metropolitan.
-- 26 percent of the rural child population resides in counties whose poverty rates have been persistently high compared with 12 percent of the children in urban counties.