Rural America in 2020: Research and Policy Briefs by RSS Members

In coincidence with the U.S. Presidential elections, 2020 is an especially critical time to increase the visibility of the Rural Sociological Society and the work of its members in national debates regarding policies and issues that affect rural people, places, and communities. Here at the RSS we have been encouraging rural sociologists to make us aware of their research and policy briefs as they are published, and we have likewise been encouraging members to consider publishing through venues like The Conversation and The Daily Yonder. On this page we will be highlighting this work. Please do let us know if you have recently authored research or policy briefs that we can feature here and otherwise provide greater visibility to your work.

Kai Schafft, 2019-2020 RSS President

Agriculture and Food


Community, Health, and Family

Shannon Monnat: Why Coronavirus Could Hit Rural Areas Harder (March 2020)

Lawrence Hamilton & Thomas Safford: Ideology Affects Trust in Science Agencies During a Pandemic (March, 2020)

Kenneth Johnson: The Spatial Distribution of New Hampshire’s Older Population Complicates Health Care Delivery During the Coronavirus Epidemic (March 2020)

Shannon Monnat: The Opioid Crisis in Rural and Small Town America (June 2018)

Shannon Monnat: Drug Overdose Rates are Highest in Places with the Most Economic and Family Distress (March 2018)


Natural Resources

Matthew Gardner Kelly and Kai A. Schafft: Fracking Has Led to a ‘Bust’ for Pennsylvania School District Finances  (January 2020)

Alexis Econie & Michael L. Dougherty: Temporary Workers of the US Recycling Industry (March 2019)

Shawn Olson Hazboun & Hilary Boudet: Companies Blocked from Using West Coast Ports to Export Fossil Fuels Keep Seeking Workarounds (Nov. 2018)

Michael C. Dougherty: Can Mining Produce Development in Central America? (April 2017)

Michael C. Dougherty: El Salvador Makes History (April 2017)



Dudley Poston: Students could be undercounted in the census as coronavirus closes colleges – here’s why that matters (March 2020)

John Green: 2020 Mississippi Kids Count Fact Book (Jan. 2020)

Dudley Poston: 3 Big Ways that the U.S. Will Change Over the Next Decade (January 2020)

Rogelio Saenz & Dudley Poston: Children of Color Already Make Up the Majority of Kids in Many US States (January 2020)

Dudley Poston & Rogelio Sáenz: The U.S. White Majority Will Soon Disappear Forever (April 2019)

John Green: Why the 2020 Census Matters to Rural Americans (April 2019)

Dudley Poston: Adding a Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census Would Cost Some States Their Congressional Seats (March 2019)

Brian Thiede: Six Charts that Illustrate the Divide Between Urban and Rural America (March 2017)

Kenneth Johnson: Where is “Rural America” and What Does it Look Like? (February 2017)

Kenneth Johnson: U.S. Fertility Rate Hits Record Low and Births Continue to Diminish (May 2019)

Kenneth Johnson: Rural America Growing Again Due to Migration Gains (April 2019)

Kenneth Johnson & Daniel Lichter: Rural Depopulation in a Rapidly Urbanizing America (February 2019)


Rural Gender Issues


Rural Policy

Zach Newman & Lisa R. Pruitt: In Housing Crisis, Rural Californians Need Greater Legal Protections and Access to Legal (January 2020)


Rural Poverty

Brian Thiede, Hyojung Kim, & Matthew Valasik: Concentrated Poverty Increased in Both Rural and Urban Areas Since 2000, Reversing Declines in the 1990s (November 2017)


Rural Racial and Ethnic Minorities


Youth, Education, and Rural Vitality

Mara Casey Tieken: School Closures Hit Rural Communities Hard (January 2020)