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Rural Matters

Jun 10, 2020

This episode is the first of our timely four-part series on rural poverty and issues impacting the 2020 elections presented this month in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Michelle chats with Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, an interdisciplinary initiative that seeks to partner communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty.  Edin and Shaefer are authors of the landmark book, $2 a Day: The Art of Living on Virtually Nothing in America, which was listed as one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015. Edin, one of the nation’s leading poverty researchers, describes how stunning it was to take a deep dive into interviewing entire rural communities to find out more about the social determinants of persistent poverty. Edin notes that, in several disadvantaged counties, including those in Marion County, South Carolina and LeFlore County, Mississippi, were comprised of a majority black population whose institutions are controlled by the minority white population. In those counties, she notes, there is virtually no institutional sharing, which perpetuates segregation. In addition, Edin says, in another county, she heard a consistent refrain from local residents:  “There’s nothing to do here except drug.”  Shaefer, Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan, says that, for persistent poverty to be prevented and alleviated, we need to address inequitable situations in which emergency relief administered after natural disasters disarmingly favor those who have clear title to property, which is an integral, historical component of persistent poverty. Shaefer also describes how Poverty Solutions is bringing students into meaningful conversations about poverty through university courses and events and, most notably, through embedding them in communities of deep disadvantage to gain a real world perspective on this issue.  This episode is sponsored by Community Hospital Corporation,; Rural Medical Education Collaborative.; and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,