Determinants of Poverty: An Analysis Across U.S. Metro Areas

Open Access
Brunot, Justin Andrew
Area of Honors:
Business Economics (Behrend)
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • James Anthony Kurre, Thesis Supervisor
  • James Anthony Kurre, Honors Advisor
  • Kerry Adzima, Faculty Reader
  • Poverty
  • Metropolitan Statistical Areas
  • United States
  • Industry
  • Occupation
The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, and yet one out of ten American families was in poverty in 2008 to 2010. Not only is this a high level nationally, but poverty varies greatly across metro regions. In McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas 30.5 percent of families were in poverty. Casper, Wyoming, however, only had 4.6 percent in poverty. What causes this variation? Lack of education? Single-headed families? This research searches for these causes of poverty at the U.S. metro level. Data from metro areas throughout the entire country were analyzed and economic, demographic, and other theorized causes of poverty were tested using least squares regression. Specifically employment measures, age categories, education levels, family structure, ethnicity, and other traits of a metro area were theorized to impact poverty levels. In addition, the difference between industrial employment breakdowns and occupational employment breakdowns were examined in order to tell if examining occupations is a better method to determine poverty rates than examining industry. Ultimately the research identifies determinants that cause or inhibit poverty at the metro level and could be used to tackle poverty issues in a more efficient manner.