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Opportunity for All: Fighting Rural Child Poverty

May 26, 2015 Comments off

Opportunity for All: Fighting Rural Child Poverty (PDF)
Source: White House

Small towns and rural communities are home to millions of Americans, are a vibrant part of our nation’s economy, and include some of the most beautiful landmarks in the country. Rural America provides the vast majority of food, energy, and environmental benefits for the rest of the country, is the source of nearly 90 percent of renewable water resources, and is home to important service sector and manufacturing hubs. Despite this critical role in our nation’s economy, too many Americans in rural areas are not sharing in our nation’s economic growth. In 2013, 6.2 million Americans in rural areas lived in poverty, including about 1.5 million children.1 Moreover, in far too many of these communities, high rates of poverty have persisted for generations: over 300 rural counties have had poverty rates of over 20 percent in every Census since 1980.

While the fight to eliminate poverty is far from over, the 2014 Economic Report of the President documented that federal programs designed to reduce poverty and promote opportunity have cut poverty by more than one-third over the past 50 years. This report also shows that poverty in rural areas fell by nearly half between 1967 and 2012, compared to about one-quarter in urban areas.

American Driving Survey: Methodology and Year One Results, May 2013 – May 2014

May 22, 2015 Comments off

American Driving Survey: Methodology and Year One Results, May 2013 – May 2014
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety/Urban Institute

On behalf of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the Urban Institute conducts a continuous survey to measure the driving behavior of the American public. The American Driving Survey is a national survey of persons 16 and over who drive of light vehicles (autos, SUVs, trucks) and reside in households with landline telephone service and/or cellular telephones. The survey commenced in May 2013 and is ongoing. The results of the first year’s data collection are presented in this report.

European City Ranking 2015: Best practices for clean air in urban transport

April 3, 2015 Comments off

European City Ranking 2015: Best practices for clean air in urban transport
Source: European Environmental Bureau

Air pollution causes nearly half a million premature deaths each year in the European Union. In busy cities, air quality is usually at its worst, with high concentrations of particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone. The average life expectancy of people living in the EU’s most polluted areas is reduced by over two years as a consequence of this. A lot can be done at a local level to avoid these emissions.

Air pollution not only damages human health but also affects our natural environment, by causing acidification and eutrophication. Furthermore, soot, or black carbon (a part of PM10), emitted largely by diesel cars, contributes to global warming by reducing the reflection of sunlight when deposited on snow and ice. The ambient air quality directive (2008/50/EC) demands that local authorities comply with short term and annual limit values of PM10 and NO2. Municipalities have adopt measures to reduce air pollution and to comply with the above mentioned air quality limit values.

What measures have been designed and implemented in some of Europe’s most polluted cities? With this ranking we aim to answer this question and demonstrate that local solutions to reduce air pollution exist. We identify which cities are best at it, and what others can learn from them.

FCC Finds U.S. Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace

March 23, 2015 Comments off

FCC Finds U.S. Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace
Source: Federal Communications Commission

Broadband deployment in the United States – especially in rural areas – is failing to keep pace with today’s advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings, according to the 2015 Broadband Progress Report adopted today by the Federal Communications Commission. Reflecting advances in technology, market offerings by broadband providers and consumer demand, the FCC updated its broadband benchmark speeds to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. The 4 Mbps/1 Mbps standard set in 2010 is dated and inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way, the FCC found. Using this updated service benchmark, the 2015 report finds that 55 million Americans – 17 percent of the population – lack access to advanced broadband. Moreover, a significant digital divide remains between urban and rural America: Over half of all rural Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service.

The divide is still greater on Tribal lands and in U.S. territories, where nearly 2/3 of residents lack access to today’s speeds. And 35 percent of schools across the nation still lack access to fiber networks capable of delivering the advanced broadband required to support today’s digital-learning tools. While significant progress in broadband deployment has been made, due in part to the Commission’s action to support broadband through its Universal Service programs, these advances are not occurring broadly enough or quickly enough, the report finds. The report concludes that more work needs to be done by the private and public sectors to expand robust broadband to all Americans in a timely way, and the accompanying Notice of Inquiry seeks comment on what additional steps the FCC can take to accelerate broadband deployment.

Changing Patterns in U.S. Immigration and Population; Immigrants slow population decline in many counties

January 23, 2015 Comments off

Changing Patterns in U.S. Immigration and Population; Immigrants slow population decline in many counties
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

An examination of county-level demographic data reveals how immigrants affected population change in specific regions of the country between 1990 and 2012. While the native- and foreign-born populations both grew across most of the United States during that period, there are some areas where the native-born population decreased. This brief illustrates how, in some places, an influx of foreign-born individuals slowed overall population loss and even reversed it. This is consistent with past research that has found that immigration continues to shape the country’s demography, particularly in newer immigrant destinations. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has shown that immigration has mitigated population loss in the Midwest at the state level and in metropolitan areas. Researchers reported in the journal Rural Sociology that immigrants reduced population loss in nonmetropolitan counties during the 1990s. This brief updates and expands on previous research by providing a county-level analysis of the entire nation over two decades and presenting the demographic context for future research on the impact of immigration on state and local economies and budgets.

The Prevalence and Correlates of Lifetime Psychiatric Disorders and Trauma Exposures in Urban and Rural Settings: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)

December 28, 2014 Comments off

The Prevalence and Correlates of Lifetime Psychiatric Disorders and Trauma Exposures in Urban and Rural Settings: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)
Source: PLoS ONE

Introduction
Distinctions between rural and urban environments produce different frequencies of traumatic exposures and psychiatric disorders. We examine the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and frequency of trauma exposures by position on the rural-urban continuum.

Methods
The National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) was used to evaluate psychiatric disorders among a nationally-representative sample of the U.S. population. Rurality was designated using the Department of Agriculture’s 2003 rural-urban continuum codes (RUCC), which differentiate counties into levels of rurality by population density and adjacency to metropolitan areas. Lifetime psychiatric disorders included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, mood disorders, impulse-control disorders, and substance abuse. Trauma exposures were classified as war-related, accident-related, disaster-related, interpersonal or other. Weighted logistic regression models examined the odds of psychiatric disorders and trauma exposures by position on the rural-urban continuum, adjusted for relevant covariates.

Results
75% of participants were metropolitan, 12.2% were suburban, and 12.8% were from rural counties. The most common disorder reported was any anxiety disorder (38.5%). Drug abuse was more common among metropolitan (8.7%, p = 0.018), compared to nonmetropolitan (5.1% suburban, 6.1% rural) participants. A one-category increase in rurality was associated with decreased odds for war-related trauma (aOR = 0.86, 95%CI 0.78–0.95). Rurality was not associated with risk for any other lifetime psychiatric disorders or trauma exposure.

Discussion/Conclusions
Contrary to the expectation of some rural primary care providers, the frequencies of most psychiatric disorders and trauma exposures are similar across the rural-urban continuum, reinforcing calls to improve mental healthcare access in resource-poor rural communities.

Distribution of U.S. Health Care Providers Residing in Rural and Urban Areas

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Distribution of U.S. Health Care Providers Residing in Rural and Urban Areas (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

Key Findings

  • Among rural residents, there are proportionately more providers in occupations that require fewer years of education and training. Among urban residents, there are proportionately more providers in occupations that require greater years of education and training.
  • Some sectors of the health care workforce have proportionately fewer providers living in rural areas, regardless of amounts of education and training.
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