Social Security in rural America

Social Security has a greater economic impact in rural areas than it does in metropolitan ones, according to a study conducted by Roberto Gallardo at the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) at Mississippi State University. Dr. Gallardo conducted the study in conjunction with the Daily Yonder, the independent rural news journal published by the Center for Rural Strategies.

Dr. Gallardo found that Social Security makes up a greater proportion of rural counties' total income. The study also revealed that a greater percentage of rural populations receive Social Security payments than metropolitan populations do.

In addition to creating national reports on the impact of Social Security in rural America for the Daily Yonder, the project created reports for each rural and "micropolitan" county in the United States. Rural Strategies distributed these reports directly to community media in those counties, localizing the story for each county. (Micropolitan counties are those that contain small cities -- less than 50,000 residents).

More than 90 newspapers and radio stations in 33 states have produced stories about Social Security's economic impact, as of November 10, 2011. In addition, another 150 radio stations broadcast a network news report on the study. This map shows where the story has been printed and broadcast.

"The goal of this project is to get local, newsworthy information about Social Security directly to rural residents through a targeted and trusted source -- local media," said Tim Marema, vice president of the Center for Rural Strategies. "It's important for rural communities to have this information about Social Security at a time when policy makers are considering changes in this program."