The Difference Geographic Scope Can Make in Policy Decision

Sonali Mathur weighs census tracts against counties in anti-poverty programs:

Initially proposed during the drafting of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the 10-20-30 approach called for 10 percent of funds of federal programs subject to this plan be directed to persistent poverty counties where at least 20 percent of the population has been living in poverty for 30 years.

While this may have worked for the original intent of appropriately directing the rural development funds, the county based approach may not necessarily work across a wider range of programs and may not be the right approach to address extreme poverty.

While most discussion about the anti-poverty proposal has been focused on the money that would be made available, the geographic level used to allocate funds be it counties, neighborhoods or something else will significantly affect where the money would be spent and who would benefit from it.

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