CORVALLIS, Ore. Despite high levels of poverty and unemployment rates that are nearly double that of their urban counterparts, working families in rural Oregon tend to make less use of public assistance, especially childcare subsidies, according to researchers with Oregon State University's Family Policy Program.
OSU researchers Deana Grobe and Bobbie Weber, along with Elizabeth Davis of the University of Minnesota, found that the rates of use of such programs as work support were similar between rural and urban areas, despite poverty and unemployment figures often being much higher in rural areas. For instance, the unemployment rate in the metropolitan areas surveyed in 2000 was 5.8 percent, compared to 10.3 in rural Oregon. Yet, use of state support systems was often similar, or less in rural areas, than in larger cities.
The lone exception seemed to be in food stamp usage: only 5 percent of rural families that received a child care subsidy did not use any food stamps during the three-year period, compared to 8 percent of city dwellers.
"Given limitations of our data, we don't really know why the rural families used food stamps more than childcare or other forms of support," Weber said. "What we do know is that from a policy perspective, there seem to be equity issues in the state's child care assistance program that is supposed to be equally accessible across the state."
The study, published in the current journal issue of Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, looks at 48 months of data from five Oregon state systems: childcare subsidy data, unemployment insurance wage data, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Food Stamp Program data and the Client Maintenance System.
Counties in Oregon were broken up into three categories: metropolitan (counties with an urban area with 50,000 or more people), micropolitan (counties with at least one urban cluster of between 10,000 and 49,000),
|Contact: Bobbie Weber|
Oregon State University