In this brief, authors Jessica Carson and Marybeth Mattingly explore the extent to which rural and urban residents access five social programs—Social Security, disability benefits, federal and state cash assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—and the effect of these programs individually and collectively in bringing family incomes closer to the poverty threshold. They report that these programs combined keep 11.5 percent of rural and 7.6 percent of urban residents out of poverty. Social Security is especially important: without it, poverty would increase by 4.4 percentage points in urban places and by 7.6 percentage points in rural places. These findings make clear that policymakers should consider how changes to eligibility or benefit levels, and investments in, different programs will yield varying results within and across places.


The Carsey School of Public Policy

Publication Date

Spring 4-16-2019


National Issue Brief No. 142


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



Copyright 2019. Carsey School of Public Policy. These materials may be used for the purposes of research, teaching, and private study. For all other uses, contact the copyright holder.





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