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Road to Despair and the Geography of the America Left Behind


  • Partridge, Mark
  • Tsvetkova, Alexandra


President Trump’s election highlights US economic disparities, especially in rural America. This study assesses 21st century economic conditions to identify broad forces underlying the uneven economic performance of US counties, stressing factors that may be important for lagging regions. We examine the effects of three groups of variables (economic, social/demographic, and geography) on job growth, poverty, and median income. To this end, we split the time period before and after the Great Recession and use standard regression analysis augmented by quantile regressions to assess the heterogeneity in economic performance. The results suggest an increasing role played by economic factors including the benefits of having a fast-growing industry structure. Perhaps more importantly, measures of economic dynamics—the ability of a local economy to “rewire” by reallocating resources in response to economic shocks—emerge as important predictors of performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Partridge, Mark & Tsvetkova, Alexandra, 2017. "Road to Despair and the Geography of the America Left Behind," 2018 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 5-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 266303, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:assa18:266303
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.266303

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    Cited by:

    1. Heather M Stephens & John Deskins, 2018. "Economic Distress and Labor Market Participation," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(5), pages 1336-1356.
    2. Richard V. Adkisson & Lawrence D. LaPlue & Christopher J. Sroka, 2020. "The Role of Initial Conditions in Post-Great Recession Recovery and Development: Single-County MSAs," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 34(1), pages 64-77, February.
    3. Mark Partridge & Alexandra Tsvetkova & Michael Betz, 2021. "Are the most productive regions necessarily the most successful? Local effects of productivity growth on employment and earnings," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 30-61, January.
    4. Bayoumi, Tamim & Barkema, Jelle, 2022. "The Economic Consequences of IT," SocArXiv 8u6an, Center for Open Science.
    5. Mr. Tamim Bayoumi & Jelle Barkema, 2019. "Stranded! How Rising Inequality Suppressed US Migration and Hurt Those Left Behind," IMF Working Papers 2019/122, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Goetz, Stephan J. & Davlasheridze, Meri, 2017. "Explaining Spatial Disparities in Drug Overdoses, 1970-2014," 2018 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 5-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 266296, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Goetz, Stephan J. & Han, Yicheol, 2020. "Latent innovation in local economies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(2).
    8. Samuel Taylor & Heather M. Stephens & Daniel Grossman, 2022. "The opioid crisis and economic distress: Consequences for population change," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 541-577, March.

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    Political Economy; Public Economics;

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