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

Elizabeth Ransom, E. Melanie DuPuis, and Michelle Worosz. Why farmers are dumping milk down the drain and letting produce rot in fields (April 2020)

Anna Kleiner, John Green, Anne Cafer, Meagen Rosenthal, Lynn Woo, and Caroline Steil. Providing Food Assistance in a Pandemic: Views and Lessons Learned from the Frontlines in Northwest Mississippi (Oct. 2020)


Community, Health, and Family

Kenneth Johnson. Health Conditions and an Older Population Increase COVID-19 Risks in Rural America (August 2020)

Lawrence Hamilton and Thomas Safford. Conservative Media Consumers Less Likely to Wear Masks and Less Worried about COVID-19 (Sept. 2020)

Aysha Bodenhamer. Prevention Failures and the Resurgence of Black Lung in Central Appalachia (July 2020)

Danielle Rhubart, Shannon M. Monnat, and Yue Sun. Rural Ohio Faces High Health Risk During the COVID-19 Pandemic (July 2020)

Shannon M. Monnat, and Yue Sun. New York State’s Rural Counties Have Higher COVID-19 Mortality Risk (July 2020)

Raeven Faye Chandler, Shannon M. Monnat, and Yue Sun. High COVID-19 Mortality Risks in Pennsylvania’s Rural Counties (July 2020)

David J. Peters. Rural America is more vulnerable to COVID-19 than cities are, and it’s starting to show (June 2020)

John Green. Broadband Subscriptions Vary in Mississippi. Implications for the COVID-19 Era (May 2020)

Parks and Jamiko Deleveaux. Health Risks for COVID-19 in Mississippi Counties (April 2020)

Ann Cafer and Meagen Rosenthal. Coronavirus is spreading through Rural South’s High-Risk Population – Reopening Economies Will Make It Worse (April 2020)

David J. Peters. Rural Areas Face Higher and Distinct Risks of Serious COVID-19 Outcomes than Urban Areas (April 2020)

Anne Cafer and Meagan Rosenthal. COVID-19 in the Rural South. A Perfect Storm of Disease, Health Access, and Co-Morbidity (April 2020)

John Green. Population 65 Years and Older Varies by Region and Non-Metro Status in Mississippi. Implications for COVID-19 (April 2020)

Kenneth Johnson. An Older Population Increases Estimated COVID-19 Death Rates in Rural America (April 2020)

Shannon M. Monnat and Kent Jason G. Cheng. Geographic Disparities in COVID-19 Testing. An Urgent Call to Action (April 2020)

Thomas Safford and Lawrence Hamilton. Views of a Fast-Moving Pandemic. A Survey of Granite Staters’ Responses to COVID-19 (April, 2020)

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

Lawrence Hamilton and 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 and the Environment

Roberta Nilson, David Kay, and Richard Stedman. Challenges of Large-Scale Solar Electric Siting in New York State. Part II, The Evolving Permitting Process (July 2020)

David Kay, Roberta Nilson, and Richard Stedman. Challenges of Large-Scale Solar Electric Siting in New York State (May 2020)

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

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

Shawn Olson Hazboun and 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)



Shannon M. Monnat. The U.S. Rural Mortality Penalty is Wide and Growing (October 2020)

Kenneth Johnson and Daniel Lichter. Is Rural America Failing or Succeeding? Maybe Both (Sept. 2020)

Vanessa Parks. The Critical Role of Social Capital During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Lessons from Disaster Research (April, 2020)

John Green, Heather Hanna, Lynn Woo, Rachel Haggard, and Anne Buffington. Using Community Engagement Approaches to Bolster 2020 Census Participation (March, 2020)

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 and Dudley Poston. Children of Color Already Make Up the Majority of Kids in Many US States (January 2020)

Dudley Poston and 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 and Daniel Lichter. Rural Depopulation in a Rapidly Urbanizing America (February 2019)


Rural Gender Issues


Rural Policy and Politics

Kenneth Johnson and Dante Scala. Voting and Attitudes Along the Red-Blue Urban Continuum (October 2020)

Brian Thiede, David L. Brown, Jaclyn Butler, and Leif Jensen. Income Inequality is Getting Worse in US Urban Areas (April 2020)

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


Rural Poverty

Anna Kleiner, John Green, Anne Cafer, Meagen Rosenthal, Lynn Woo, and Caroline Steil. Providing Food Assistance in a Pandemic: Views and Lessons Learned from the Frontlines in Northwest Mississippi (October 2020)

Brian Thiede, Hyojung Kim, and 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

Kent Jason, G. Cheng, Yue Sun, and Shannon Monnat. Rural COVID-19 Mortality Rates are Highest in Counties with the Largest Percentages of Blacks and Hispanics (Sept. 2020)


Youth, Education, and Rural Vitality

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