Life in Rural America Part 2
Second Study in Series Conducted for NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health by SSRS
The Life in Rural America—Part II report is based on a survey conducted for NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The survey is the second in the series Life in Rural America, and it covers rural Americans’ personal experiences with health, social, civic, and economic issues in their local communities. It was conducted January 31 – March 2, 2019, among a nationally representative, probability-based telephone (cell and landline) sample of 1,405 adults ages 18 or older living in the rural United States.
A majority of rural Americans are satisfied with their quality of life, and rural Americans are more likely to see their communities as safe compared to adults nationally. A majority also express optimism that people like them can make an impact on their local community and are civically and socially engaged. However, a minority of rural Americans struggle with experiences in areas of life that carry major consequences, including financial insecurity, trouble accessing affordable, quality health care, lack of high-speed internet access, housing problems, and isolation/loneliness.
The first Life in Rural America survey found a majority of rural Americans hold negative ratings of their local economy. To follow up on this finding, this survey asked about rural Americans’ personal experiences with financial insecurity and found nearly half of rural Americans cannot afford to pay off an unexpected $1,000 expense right away. In addition, four in ten rural Americans say their families have experienced problems affording medical bills, housing, or food in the past few years.
When it comes to health care, even though most rural Americans have health insurance, about one-quarter say they lack adequate health care access, as they have not been able to get health care they needed at some point in the past few years. Hospital closures are also problematic for some rural Americans, as almost one in ten say hospitals in their local community have closed down in the past few years.