During the 1990 congressional redistricting many states were mandated to create additional majority minority-resident districts in order to elect more minorities to Congress. Civil rights groups and Republicans cheered. The Party views Democratic districts stripped of Black voters as opportunities to repaint blue districts red. The academic literature agrees, attributing the Republican return to House control in 1994 to race based redistricting.

Because of their different geographical distribution, US households are exposed to different levels and trends in cost of living. One contribution of this paper is to document that, as a consequence, the conditional difference between the wage of skilled workers and of unskilled workers is significantly lower in real terms than in nominal terms and has grown less. In 2000, the level of the college premium is 60% in nominal terms and only 51% in real terms.

This paper provides the first detailed empirical evidence of the labor-market returns to community college diplomas and certificates. Using detailed administrative data from Kentucky, we estimate panel-data models that control for differences among students in pre-college earnings and educational aspirations. Associate’s degrees and diplomas have quarterly earnings returns of nearly $2,000 for women, compared to returns of approximately $1,500 for men. Certificates have small positive returns for men and women in most specifications.

More than 40 years ago, the U.S. government adopted a policy of funding domestic family planning services, and the effects of these programs have been debated ever since. Within an event-study framework, I exploit community-level variation in the timing of federal grants for family planning services under the Economic Opportunity Act (1965 to 1974) and Title X (1970 to 1980) to evaluate their impact. The results provide robust evidence that federal family planning grants reduced birth rates in funded communities by four percent within six years.

The important points from our analyses are two-fold. First, the implications of family change for family poverty appeared to be larger in Appalachia than in non-Appalachian areas, independent of regional differences in employment opportunities, industrial structure, demographic variables, and unobserved state and county variables. Second, family effects, notably those associated with changing female headship, were estimated to be larger than those for conventional economic and human capital variables.

In these notes, I provide some general ideas on how to conceptualize poverty traps and speculate on their applicability to understanding Appalachian poverty. My goal is to stimulate thinking on Appalachia that exploits contemporary perspectives in economics on the sources of persistent poverty and inequality. To do this, I focus on both the theory of poverty traps as well as issues in the econometric assessment of their empirical salience.

In 2005, Florida implemented an internet-based service delivery system for eligibility determination in public assistance programs, including the Food Stamp, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Medicaid programs. At the same time, Florida switched from a caseworker model to a technology-driven model and decreased staffing levels of employees involved in social service delivery. We conduct an evaluative case study of the effects of these policy changes on the Food Stamp caseload.

Capturing the conditions of children of color living in single-parent families has become more complex due to the growing presence of interracial households. This analysis assesses the size and poverty status of single-female headed families housing multiracial children. Using data from the 2000 Census, we find that 9 percent of female-headed families house either children who are classified with more than one race or are classified as a single race different than their mother’s compared to only 3 percent of married couple families.


This paper surveys economic research on the association between economic development and urban areas, links this summary to some important trends in economic outcomes in Appalachia in recent decades, highlights areas in need of future research on the role of urban areas as engines of economic development in Appalachia, and discusses what types of place-based policies might be effective to promote economic growth and development in the Appalachian region.

This paper examines changes in the earnings distribution of men age 25-64 between 1960 and 2000 in Appalachia and in the remainder of the U.S. Because Appalachia is more rural than the remainder of the U.S. we also examine changes in the earnings distribution in rural vs. urban areas. Our central finding is that there have been large differences in the evolution of the earnings distribution in rural vs. urban areas and this is the principal reason that Appalachia’s earnings distribution differs to some degree from the remainder of the U.S.