Many of the nation's current pathologies are centered in the majority-white population of rural America, heavily hit by the opioid crisis and facing falling populations, job losses and rising suicide rates, Axios' Stef Kight writes.
- Why it matters: The malaise and discontent that President Trump taps into goes beyond the racism of the past few weeks, and includes anger at a changing world and frustration at dwindling opportunities close to home.
- These trends are further entrenching the rural-urban schism that came to light in the 2016 election.
The big picture: Political and economic power is shifting to the cities, and 20% of the population — 46 million people — is being left behind in the middle of America.
- These communities face increasingly higher barriers to education, wealth and health.
- And if you're African American or Hispanic, your chances of success and survival at every turn are even worse.
Let’s say you were born, grew up, and now reside in rural America:
- Throughout your life, you have been more susceptible to poverty, lower education, illness and even death than your urban counterparts.
- As a kid, chances are, you lived farther away from a doctor or hospital and got less exercise.
- You were more likely to live in a school desert, having to travel long distances to make it to school.
- Say you did get a college degree. You'd likely end up so saddled with debt, that returning to your rural hometown wouldn't be an option if you hoped to get a job that would enable you to pay it off, according to Federal Reserve research.
As an adult, you’re more likely suffer from obesity, mental health issues, diabetes, cancer and opioid addiction.
- You are more likely to know people who took their own lives.
- If you keep working in your hometown, your job is more likely to be taken over by AI, according to a Brookings Institution study — especially if you live in Indiana, Kentucky, South Dakota, Arkansas or Iowa.
- Your community's economy still hasn't fully recovered from the 2008 recession, according to Fed data.
As you get older, you are more likely to die a preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- If you do make it into old age, you may not have a place to grow old near your friends, family and the place you called home your whole life.
What's next: Technological advancements such as 5G and automated vehicles won't directly make life harder for rural America, but instead will fuel inequality by making life that much easier for urban America.
- The rural-urban divide will continue to play a central role in politics and elections for the next several years — unless and until rural America's population declines enough that their political power dwindles.